Udorn Air Base, Thailand    1965-1966


The following review is edited with information gained from the many documents made availabe by the USAF archive, the AF Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), Maxwell AFB, AL. The archive also is a great source for the many Rescue Mission Reports, often written by the pilots involved. In the past I was able to do research at the AFHRA myself. I have to thank Mr. Randy Asherbranner for his recent research efforts undertaken at the AFHRA. 

I would like to especially thank Mr. Gary Pruitt (SMSgt , USAF Ret.), Mr. Anthony Desmond (resigned as Airman 2ndClass, USAF), and Mr. William Wirstrom ( Col., USAFR Ret. ) for all their contributions, the personal stories, and for the photographs.    

For many of the 1966 Rescue Mission reports I have made use of a part of the information published in the Book by Mr. Robert LaPointe, “PJs in Vietnam”. Especially the listing “Vietnam War SAR Data” (pages 420-422) was very  helpful and additionally, as well as some Narrative reports for missions, which were not available for my AFHRA research efforts. Very valuable also were the photos of HH-3 crewmembers which Mr. LaPointe copied while doing research in the archive of the Air Force Museum.

Also used for some of the 1966 Mission Reports are data given in the “Vietnam Air Losses”  database on line (www.vietnamairlosses.com) , a website by Mr. Chris Hobson and Mr. David Lovelady. I would like to thank all three authors for their very valuable, published information.     

Johan D. Ragay

PRHA and USAF Rotorheads H-43 Historian 


For organization of HH-43 units in SEA, please visit my website page: https://www.ragay.nl/hh-43-sea/h-43-usaf-units-pacaf  

This Udorn AB historical review will also include other aircraft types as they operated closely with the HH-43 as an ACR aircraft, and as of late 1965 also with the new ACR  helicopter, the HH-3C/E. 


Update 04 Mar 2023  (chapter 03. - Concept of operations for CH-3C / HH-43B)

Update 29 Mar 2023  (Preface)


01.                  Kaman HH-43B and -43F  Huskie -  based at Udorn Air Base, Thailand    1965-1966    

01.01      The Build up

All aircraft in SEA in 1964 were under control of Hq. 2nd Air Division at Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN. Its major units were the 33rd and 34th Tactical Group and the 315th Troop Carrier Group in South Vietnam, and the 35th Tactical Group in Thailand. On 7 August 1964 the post of deputy commander 2nd AD was established at Udorn AB. The deputy commander would conduct, control and coordinate all USAF matters in support of air operations in Laos. new  Source: file K168-01-3, Plans and Policies, 1964, USAF Historical Division - page 48  ;  file K717.0414-1, Vol.1 ChecoReport SEA 1961-1966 , IRIS00517392 - page 19

The continued buildup of SAR forces during the first half of 1965 closely paralleled the general strenghtening of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. In April 65, Detachment 3 (Provisional) Hq PARC, was formed at Ubon Airfield, Thailand. This was followed by creation of Det.5 (Prov) at Udorn, Thailand in May 65. Each unit was equipped with two HH-43B helicopters, which were quite suitable for operations outside of the combat zone.  (source: File K717.0414-1, Checo Report USAF Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia 1961-1966, in USAF Collection, AFHRA)

The Huskie Detachment was designated and organized at Udorn AB, Thailand as Det.Provisional 5, PARC on 03 May 1965. The unit became Det.5, 38th ARS on 01 July 1965.

The two HH-43B aircraft came from CONUS, Det.3, EARC at Griffiss AFB, NY.

All officers were drawn from other detachments with the exception of the commander, who had reported in within days before the move.     (AFHRA file K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.4)

Special air mission requirements have been submitted to MATS for airlift of HH-43B helicopters, personnel and support equipment from DET.3, EARC, Griffiss AFB and DET.9, WARC Portland IAP to the PARC area (PARC - Pacific Air Rescue Center). Anticipated airlift pickup was not later than 01 May 1965.  (AFHRA file K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.7)

(source: File K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.1-page 11, IRIS00491703, in USAF Collection, AFHRA) and (K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.4 ; and Vol.7)  

01.02    Organization  1965-1966

UNIT                                HH-43      and       HH-3C/E



DET.Prov.5, PARC

03 May 1965

01 Jul 1965


01 Jul 1965

08 Jan 1966


08 Jan 1966

08 Feb 1969


01.03    Assigned  HH-43  aircraft  



from Griffiss AFB   *08 May 1965 - 30 Jul 1967  to Cam Rhan Bay AB

from  17 Oct 1966 - 15 Nov 1966  for overhaul at DonMuang (i.a. camouflage),

replaced by 60-0278 from Ubon, assigned 15Oct - 12Dec66



from Griffiss AFB   *08 May 1965 - 29 Sep 1967    to Tuy Hoa AB

from  xx Aug 1966 - 10 Sep 1966  for overhaul at DonMuang (i.a. camouflage),

replaced by 60-0278 from Ubon, assigned 09Aug - 22Sep66



from Portland IAP, via KungKuan, CHNRE  (27 Apr 65 / 30 Jun 65)

to Udorn 06 Jul 1965 - 22 Dec 1965  to Binh Thuy AB



from Portland IAP, via KungKuan, CHNRE  (27 Apr 65 / 30 Jun 65)

to Udorn 06 Jul 1965 - 13 Mar 1966  to Phan Rang AB



from Kaman/Bloomfield  15 Oct 1965 - 04 Jan 1966   to DonMuang

for damage repair - later to Binh Thuy AB 



from Kaman/Bloomfield  15 Oct 1965 - 22 Dec 1965  to Bien Hoa AB 

 *)  60-0254 became operational at Udorn as of 11 May, 60-0253 as of 12 May65

 And, as of early October 1965 the following aircraft, formerly assigned to DET.1 at NKP :



xx Oct 1965 - 30 Nov 1965   to Takhli AB



xx Oct 1965 - 29 Nov 1965   to Korat AB



xx Oct 1965 - 24 Nov 1965   to Pleiku AB



xx Oct 1965 - 24 Nov 1965   to Pleiku AB



xx Oct 1965 - 14 Jan 1966    to Tan Son Nhut AB



xx Oct 1965 - 06 Nov 1965   shot down over NVN 



600253 Wirstrom scan84 cor

HH-43B 60-0253  ca. May65  collection William Wirstrom , location and crew unknown
Seen here in full CONUS used titles and MATS emblem, serial number on tail (shortly later removed, together with the yellow/black band and “Rescue”)


600254 Wirstrom scan87 cor

HH-43B 60-0254  ca. Jun-Jul65  collection William Wirstrom , location and crew unknown
Seen here after the CONUS related titles were "sheep dipped" painted grey - note “0254” above the windscreen

William Wirstrom 3rdL scan86 cor.JPG



1965 - pilot 1st Lt. William Wirstrom  (3rd from left) and unknown crewmembers. The location is given as Udorn AB, however there is some doubt. Photo collection Wirstrom.


This Huskie shows CONUS used titles, but the large MATS emblem was already removed.

NOTE the antenna in front of the windshield, very unusual in this timeframe. The red warning text on a black shield also is rare and not seen in the above photos of 0253 and 0254. This may indicate that the aircraft in the picture either is 59-1587 or -1590, delivered in July 1965.


02.    Detachment Provisional 5, PARC -   Built up and first months


02.01      The FIRST group of personnel

                        May-October 1965 

Capt. David E. Allen P    DET.CO   from Det.3, EARC 
Capt. Troy L. Allen P    from Det.9, WARC
Capt. Herbert M. Berthold P    from Det.16, EARC
Capt. Walter E. Hogan

P    poss. from Det.4, 36ARS  (Osan)

x P
1stLt. William C. Wirstrom P    from Det.9, EARC
1stLt. John K. Forsythe

P    from Det.Prov.6, PARC  (Taiwan)

Capt. Hoyt B. Hurt               

P    from Det.Prov.6, PARC  (Taiwan)

Capt. Jake C. Hart P    from Det.Prov.6, PARC (Taiwan)


TSgt. Free MT
TSgt. West   (poss. Ralph E. West) FF
TSgt William Fulford MT
A1C  Robert W. Dager HM
A2C  Bedford T. Lockard MT
A3C  George O. Lepsey HM
and unknown others                                                                                          


                  (9 pilots and ca. 25 enlisted personnel) 

02.02      Detachment Commander Capt. David E. Allen

From the AFHRA file  “End-of-Tour” Report made up by Detachment Commander Capt. David E. Allen  (file K318-2131 on microfilm K3264):

Det.5 aircraft (originally Det. Provisional 5th) were the first USAF helicopters assigned to Udorn AB. We arrived there TDY from Griffiss AFB, NY on 08 May 65. The base had had no previous indication of our assignment there until we arrived. Far behind on their planning and construction, the base was critically unprepared to accept the rapid influx of personnel and equipment which was arriving daily (during this period). Helo operations was established in a very small room in the Base Operations Building. An abandoned and condemned mess hall was quickly and inexpertly rehab’d through self-help to serve as crew quarters. A meeting with the Thai Base Commander resulted in acquisition of hangar space for helo maintenance. Eight weeks after the Griffiss contigent had arrived at Udorn, a second TDY detachment arrived unexpectedly. This, of course, compounded the space problem. For a helo detachment, Det.5 was quite large (9 pilots and about 25 enlisted personnel). Space for quarters, operations and an alert pad continued as a problem throughout the 6 month TDY period.  

02.03      Pilot 1st Lt. William Wirstrom remembers

Pilot 1st Lt. William Wirstrom, in an August 2002 email to Ragay, remembers:

I was part of the first group that arrived in May 1965. We brought the aircraft in from Griffiss AFB on two C-124’s including all the pilots and support people.  It was an augmented unit. I believe there were six or seven pilots, me being the junior one. The entire Det.3 at Griffiss was closed out. The other pilots came from Shaw AFB [me, Det.9, EARC] , McDill AFB (Det.14, EARC), Capt. Troy L. Allen (Portland, Det9, WARC), and one more, I believe from Homestead AFB (Det.16, EARC). The C-124 's were from Hunter AFB, Savanna, GA (63rd TCW) 

The Ferry-flight :

(1) The first day (ca. 01May65) was one from Griffiss to Travis AFB, CA. (2)  One day of rest and then (3) to Hickham AFB, HI.  (4) Another day then to Wake Island.  (5) About 12 hrs, then to Guam AFB.  (6) Another day then to Clark AB, Philippines. At this point we were informed where we would go (Udorn AB, Thailand) and what our mission would be. (7) We departed the next day and it was a short one compared to the legs before. 

We arrived without alert to the USAF Base CO, so they had to rush around to get us quarters and a place to operate from. We then planned for an LBR mission as they had a deployed Squadron of RF-101C 's in place.  (12 aircraft assigned to 15th TRS)

(July 65) - Two more aircraft were brought in from a DET in Taiwan. The Commander of that unit was senior to Capt. Allen but that CO refused to allow operation into Laos and was relieved".   

The Air America unit that was co-located at Udorn painted our ships plain grey.  We referred to it as being "sheep dipped". There was no USAF marking on the outside of the ship. There was a small metal plate [ about 1 ft sq.] with USAF star that we would place on the side when going into combat (entry into North Vietnam). At first we just flew LBR at Udorn, but when an F-105D pilot who had bailed out in Laos was stuck in the tops of a tree, we went into that area to recover him. (03July 65 - see Chapter 03.01). I was with Capt. Dave Allen, the Det. CO.  The other aircraft was flown by Capt. Bert Berthold and Capt. Gene Hogan. It was a very unusual mission. This was a very classified mission at the time because US Military, offically, was not allowed to be in Laos.  

Things then began to get hot and heavy.  We started flying very far north in Laos, living at Lima Sites, with fuel delivered by Air America C-46’s (yes 46’s).  Living for a week at a time at LS 108 ( a CIA outpost), watching a Laotian war going on from a mountain top with trip flares surrounding us.  We would receive launch orders by HF radio from Saigon and there were many missions into North Vietnam.  We some times landed at LS 36 near the North Vietnam border right in the middle of “Indian Country”.  I think I saw Hanoi from 10 thousand feet about four different times.  Once we came back at night trying to find LS 108.  It was overcast and the only way we could get in was with a UHF DF steer from an H-34 and 55 gal drums filled with JP-4 on fire.  That night we drank whisky with Laotian General Vang Pao. I was able to fly 46 missions into North Vietnam via the north eastern part of Laos.     (Source for last paragraph:  Pedro News, issue April 2005,  Editors Paul J. Metzner and Stephen P. Mock   -  Article  “Jumping the Fence”, by Bill Wirstrom)


2.04      Fuel Re-supply at Forward Operating Locations

From the “End-of-Tour” Report of Capt. David E. Allen:

Initially Det.5 had LBR as its only mission. In late June 65, however, the mission expanded to include aircrew recovery (ACR) which soon became primary. An equally important sub-mission developed in conjuction with the ACR mission, that of scouting perhaps 30 Lima Sites (LS) in Laos to determine which would be suitable for use as helo forward operating locations and subsequent preparation of those sites selected for our use. The range of the HH-43B is generally accepted as 150 N.M. However, the distances involved in fulfilling the ACR mission often far exceeded that figure inasmuch as on several occasions Det.5 HH-43Bs flew considerably North of the Hanoi latitude, once to a point 33 miles west and slightly north of that city. This increased range, was possible through the use of three and sometimes four 55 gallon drums which were jerry-rigged in the HH-43B cabin. This arrangement nearly doubled the effective range of the helicopter. Hundreds of hours were flown in this configuration and thousands of gallons of JP-4 were transferred by hand pump from air-dropped barrels of fuel to the helo fuel tanks. One can see that a reliable system for fuel re-supply to the forward operating locations was an over-riding consideration and a problem which was eased but never solved during the period of my TDY. 

William Wirstrom remembers:

I also wanted to add that after the first pilot rescue, it was determend we needed more range/ fuel.  To do this the Mechanics came up with a "jerry rig" that consisted of using a "Y" coupling [fuel line] on the back step. With a quick disconnect hose that attached to the "bung'" of a 55 gal fuel drum.  Three of these drums were placed in a lumber saddle inside the cabin and the quick disconnect hose attached to the drums one at a time. The fuel was gravity fed to the chopper's main tank and empty drums were thrown overboard while in flight.  This was accomplished at 10.000 feet near the Laos / N. Vietnam border. We never carried these drums in flight when we went into N. Vietnam for a pick up.


02.05    Airborne Command and Control  -  2nd AD Detachment  -  HU-16B    -  HC-54D

source:  file K318-222-3-Hist-3ARRG-Jan-Mar66-IRIS492413 - Pages 1 thru 16, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

source: Book “Air America in Laos”, Part.1 - by Dr. Joe F. Leeker, University of Texas at Dallas, 2006-2016 (page 61)  -new


 new-   On 11 June 1964, an Air Support Operations Center (ASOC), operated by Detachment 2, 35th Tactical Group, was opened at Udorn, Thailand, under the direction of a newly established deputy commander for 2AD Thailand (Dep Cmdr 2AD Thailand). The new deputy commander was responsible for all USAF air operations in Laos and North Vietnam, including SAR. -new  Operational control over SAR missions in Thailand, Laos, and North Vietnam was conducted by Det.3, PARC Joint Services Air Rescue Coordinating Center (JSARCC) at Tan Son Nhut with subordinate Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC) at various locations.

On 01 July 1965 the 38th ARS was activated, Det.5 became part of this squadron, while the 2nd Air Division had operational control over all aircraft in SEA. All FRAG’s for missions for Det.5 came from 38th ARS through the detachment of  2nd Air Division at Udorn AB

Upon activation of the 3rd ARRG on 08 January 1966, organizations changed again.

The 3rd ARRG was responsible for meeting 2nd AD Search and Rescue requirements for Southeast Asia. The primary missions dealed with the recovery of air crew members and a secondary mission of providing local base rescue for air bases where tactical aircraft were stationed. The 38th ARRS became part of the 3rd ARRG.

The Joint Search and Rescue Center (JSARC) of the 3ARRG was located at Tan Son Nhut AB in the 2nd AD Tactical Air Control Center. All activities dealing with Search and Rescue in SEA had their roots in the JSARC. Daily the officer controlers received tactical opertional plans from the USAF and USN, for the following days activities and after careful analysis preposition their rescue forces accordinly. The JSARC had two Rescue Control Centers, Det.1, 3ARRG at DaNang AB, RVN and Det.2, 3ARRG at Udorn AB, Thailand. 

Direct radio contact and control was maintained by the Center with its airborne HC-54D and HU-16B and forward locations via single sideband equipment. When a Mayday occured, the JSARC received on the spot information from the orbiting HC-54D or HU-16B which had been diverted to the recovery area. The JSARC became the nerve center of the operation and the applicable aircraft became the eyes and extention of the Center. As the aircraft arrived on the scene, they became the on-scene commander and then the JSARC becomes a coordinating controller. Knowledge of the locations of SAR Forces and tactical forces were a must during these operations. The excellent cooperation received by all branches of the service, US and allied, enabled a SAR force of helicopters, fighters, tankers, and escorts to be formed and launched within a matter of minutes. 

02.05.2  HU-16B  June64 - June65 

On 15 June 1964 two HU-16B Albatross aircraft of  the 33rd ARS were sent TDY to Korat AB, Thailand, to perform airborne rescue control for Thailand and Laos. Crews rotated but the aircraft stayed at Korat AB until about May 1965, when they started operating from Udorn AB. The HC-54D took over the role of the HU-16B during June 1965. 

517144 Udorn 09Jun65 94914USAF

 HU-16B   51-7144    33 ARS   at  Udorn AB    09Jun65  -  USAFphoto 94914 (collection NARA) 



517144 Udorn 09Jun65 collage

These photos are stills, copied from USAF film, presented on YouTube; National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, USAF Air Rescue Operations, Udorn-June65, Reel 10. 
HU-16B 51-7144  33 ARS at Udorn AB  09Jun65  - note the logo printed on HU-16B  fuselage in the photo at right , the “Have No Fear” logo  (aircraft 51-7144) 


510071 YouTube09 16Jun65 at Udorn




HU-16B “Have No Fear - Rescue Is Here” logo printed on aircraft 51-0071 , including Mission Tags 22Mar65 - 23May65 - 1Jun65, and a tag (Naked Fanny) applied during a visit to Nakhon Phanom AB (NKP) - this photo date : 23Jun65, at Udorn AB.
The photo is a still, copied from USAF film, presented on YouTube; National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, USAF Air Rescue Operations, Udorn-June65, Reel 09. 

02.05.3       HC-54D  Jun65-  Dec65

new- Three TDY HC-54D’s replaced TDY HU-16B’s based at Udorn. They were HC-54D  42-72658 of 79 ARS at Guam and HC-54D 42-72702, 42-72713 of the 36 ARS at Tachikawa, Japan. -new   The HC-54D’s, with their higher flight ceilings, were better suited for operating over the mountainous terrain in Laos.

The HC-54D became attached to Det.5, 38 ARS , the number of aircraft at Udorn increased to 5 during July. The TDY crews stayed at Udorn for 30 days. The HC-54Ds served only six months at Udorn and were then replaced by factory fresh HC-130H aircraft.

HC54D Udorn Jun65 collage

HC-54D Udorn AB  June 1965 - all TDY to Det.5 , in the middle O-72702 of 36ARS , at right O-72658 assigned to 79 ARS
These photos are stills, copied from USAF film, presented on YouTube; National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, USAF Air Rescue Operations, Udorn-June65, Reel 10.  

02.05.4  Parking location of the HU-16B and HC-54D 

Collage HU 16 HC54D Udorn Jun65

These photos are stills, copied from USAF film, presented on YouTube; National Archives (College Park), ARC Identifier 5891742, Local Identifier 342-USAF-38536, USAF Air Rescue Operations, Udorn-June65, Reel 8.

Gary Pruitt, HH-43 crewmember, recalls :

The HC-54s were parked near the 2nd Air Division Operations Center on the North end of Udorn, on the opposite side of the runway from the HH-43/CH-3 parking ramp. I remember attending a briefing in the 2nd AD Operations Center, then walking to the HC-54s close by.


02.05.5  HC-130H  as of December 1965, starting with two aircraft. An additional 3 HC-130Hs were received in June 1966. These aircraft were also sent TDY from the 36th and 79th ARRS.   


02.06    First Rescue Mission   25 June 1965

source:  Rescue Mission Report  D5-PARC-19-25Jun65, IRIS No. 01009285, in USAF Collection, AFHRA


Rescue Mission number D-5-PARC-19-25Jun65             DET.Prov.5, PARC

HH-43B   unknown

Flown by RCC  unknown


SAR Objective  :  Vietnamese AF  pilot  in a ThaiAF  T-28D                  

Force-landed in a rice paddy field, about 40km north of Udorn

 From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

                                                              Scrambled HH-43B at 0305Z. Litter pick-up. Returned to Udorn AB. Survivor later Air Evac to Korat AB.


03.     1 July 1965 : Activation of 38th ARS , with DET.5, 38ARS at Udorn AB

A major reorganization took place on 01 July 1965 with the activation of the 38th ARS  -  based at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam.   Lt.Col. Edward Krafka became the first commander. The 38th ARS acted as a headquarters for all ARS helicopter detatchments in SEA, which as of then became PCS units. Det.5 was assigned to the 38th ARS, the 2nd Air Division had operational control over all aircraft in Thailand. The 13th AF was responsible for logistical and administrative support of all Air Bases in Thailand. 

From: AFHRA file K717-0414-1, CHECO Report SAR 1961-1966, dated 24 Oct 1966,  p.36-37:      Escalation of the war

Increased operations in Laos and strikes against North Vietnam placed new demands on SAR forces in the spring of 1965. Although Air America rescue operations in NVN were not specifically authorized, on several occasions Air America pilots crossed the border to make pick-ups. It was agreed, however, that since Air America could not make a full time commitment of SAR forces, and there were political risks involved in using Air America aircraft to cross the border, USAF aircraft should be introduced and staged forward to positions from which they could reach into NVN.

The State Department, in an effort to keep official and visible American activity in Laos at a minimum, suggested that Air America continue to furnish the major SAR effort in Laos. However, the additional helicopters, STOL aircraft, and communications equipment necessary for the company to do this were not forthcoming, and the Air Force was requited to assume major coverage in Laos also.

The USAF capability to perform this mission was greatly improved in July 1965 with the arrival, from Eglin AFB, of the two TAC CH-3C helicopters. These were stationed at Nakhon Phanom.  From Udorn the HH-43B’s were staged forward to Lima sites in Northern Laos to give limited coverage in the central part of NVN. Fuel cells were prepositioned at the Lima Sites (LS) for their support.

With this USAF buildup, direct SAR support from Air America in Laos was needed less. Air America continued to provide SAR for the Royal Laos AF, their own operations, and on an on-call basis, for U.S. aircraft. Air America continued to furnish the USAF SAR forces with staging sites, weather information, and intelligence, all of which are indispensable to successful operations.

The USAF SAR equipment and its disposition in the summer and fall of 1965, was still an interim proposition. The longer range and greater speed of the CH-3C were significant improvements, but their small number, and their lack of survivability in combat, limited their effectiveness. One of the two helicopters assigned was usually out of commission. Consequently, they could not be employed as a pair. This single mode of operation is avoided if at all possible.

From :  AFHRA-1965-K533.01-3-Hist-9AF-Jan-Dec66-Vol2-IRIS00509748

Concept of Operations for CH-3C / HH-43B staging from advance sites in Laos -  July 1965.

1.To keep appropriate commanders informed, the following concept of aircrew recovery operations will covern recent deployment of the two CH-3C helicopters from TAC to Nakhon Phanom and the four ARS HH-43B helicopters to Udorn for aircrew recovery in the Laos and NW DRV area. In consideration of speed and range, the CH-3C helicopters are designated primary recovery vehicles. The HH-43B helicopters will be employed as secondary recovery forces. Employment of single CH-3C helicopters is authorized when necessary due to lack of depth in available resources. When additional resources are provided, CH-3C helicopters will be dispatched in pairs. HH-43B helicopters must be employed in pairs and will be dispatched immediately to back up single CH-3C helicopters were latter is committed to recovery endeavor. HH-43B helicopters will be used when CH-3Cs are not available and launch times will be adjusted as necessary to compensate for airspeed differential. For tactical operations in DRV West and North of Hanoi, helicopters will stage through Lima Site 46 weather permitting. Mobile ground radio equipment will accompany helicoptes and be placed in operating upon arrival at site.

The HC-54 Control Aircraft based at Udorn will be scheduled over the Lima Site 30 minutes (variable for both CH-3C and HH-43B helicopters) prior to target time at which time helicopters  will launch and proceed with HC-54 toward the target area. When the control aircraft ascertains that all strike aircraft have safely departed the target area the recovery force will return to their respective recovery locations.

In the event that an aircrew is reported down, the recovery force will continue toward the scene during which the control aircraft will arrange for RESCAP and helicopter escort from elements of the strike force or through alternate sources as may be necessary. Alternate sources being aircraft on simultaneous USAF and USN strikes in Laos and aircraft from Udorn. Range and endurances subsequent to takeoff from Site 46 by either type helicopter may be extended by refueling stop at Site 36 on either outbound or return routes, weather permitting.

2.The CH-3C helicopters will within their capability transport fuel during staging operations to maintain established levels of reserve fuel at predestinated sites.

3.The concept as advanced is not to be construed as inflexible. It may be deviated from or modified as necessary to meet specific operational requirements when such action will enhance effectiveness and efficiency of recovery operations.


03.01      First Rescue  mission into Laos    -  03 July 1965

Source:  Rescue Mission Report  38-664-3Jul65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source:  Personal account by 1stLt. William Wirstrom, his email to Ragay, September 2002


Rescue Mission number 38-664-03Jul65      DET.5, 38th ARRS                             combat save

HH-43B   “Pedro 1”

Flown by Capt. Herbert M. Berthold (P), Capt. Gene Hogan (CP), xxxx (HM), TSgt. Free (MT)

HH-43B    “Pedro 2”

Flown by RCC  Capt. David E. Allen, 1stLt. William Wirstrom (CP), xxxx (HM), xxxx (MT)


SAR Objective:  pilot F-105D  62-4398  “Chevy 1”  Maj. Kenneth R. Johnson  -  563rd TFS  Takhli AB

Crashed  over Laos , 1821N - 10101E  ca. 120 Miles NE of Udorn AB ; The survivor was delivered to Udorn AB by HH-43B and on to Korat AB by HC-54D


NOTE:  The above details came from the Narrative of this Rescue Mission. It proves herewith, that already during early July 1965, the call-sign “Pedro”  was used for HH-43 flown missions. 

From Rescue Mission Report 38-664-3Jul65, IRIS No. 01009286:

Narrative Report, Mission Number 664

On 3 July 1965 at 0043Z while on orbit, we (HC-54D) heard “Chevy 1” talking to GCI and his wing man about a possible bailout. We immediately proceeded north at 10.000 feet and established contact with “Chevy 1”. On his request we outlined the safe areas and suggested he continue south. At 0053Z we intercepted him about 80 KM north of Udorn and turned to follow him toward Thailand. He was decending and reviewing bailout procedures with his wingman. We had his IFF emergency squawk and were maintaining about 10 miles behind him. We advised him that the terrain in this area was 3,000 feet and he bailed out at 0056Z prior to reaching 6,000 feet.

We (HC-54D) saw the aircraft crash and saw his parachute descending. He landed at 0100Z. We reached his position at 0103Z and circled his chute, which was in the top of a large tree. By 0114Z the following Air America aircraft were at the scene: a Caribou, a C-123, a Pioneer, and 3 H-34’s. We descended to 4,000 feet, lost visual contact with the chute, but had the area well marked. On the second pass over the area we received a strong signal on our Sarah from his URC 21. We made two passes and directed “Hotel 27”, an Air America H-34, to the area. The pilot fired three flares and “Hotel 27” found his exact position. We climbed to 4,500 feet to be clear of the other aircraft and continued to circle. By 0136Z “Hotel 27” had the pilot in his sling, but was having difficulty lifting him from the tree. He was hanging 50 feet from the top of a 130 foot tree. “Hotel 27” reported that he was unable to free the pilot and cut his cable at 0147Z. Two USAF HH-43Bs were inbound with Pararescuemen on board so we chose to hold off on any further attempts until they arrived.

At 0204Z “Pedro 1” and “2” arrived and “Pedro 1” hovered over the pilot. He agreed with the evaluation of the Air America pilot that they should land and send the PJs to the pilot, cut him down and bring him out to the landing area. “Pedro 2” had already landed to conserve fuel and when “Pedro 1” landed, both of their teams proceeded on foot. The 3 H-34s continued to fly over the ground party directing them to the survivor/F-105 pilot. They reached him at 0300Z, but could not establish contact with us due to the jamming effect of the URC 21 on 243.0 KC. It took 45 minutes to silence both of the pilot’s URC 21s and then contact was established. “Pedro 2” took off and hovered over the pilot. He lowered his cable with a 100 foot rope extension to one PJ at the scene. The PJ fastened himself in the sling and “Pedro 2” hoisted him up to the F-105 pilot. The PJ secured the pilot to his harness, cut him loose and “Pedro 2” hoisted them up at 0401Z. They were unable to board the HH-43 due to the rope attached to the end of the cable, so “Pedro 2” flew them the 500 yards to a clear area and set them down. He then landed, picked up the F-105 pilot and departed for Nong Khai. “Air America 393” (note Ragay :”Air America 393” was Caribou 61-2393)  intercepted and escorted “Pedro 2” to Nong Khai and then on to Udorn. We cicled overhead until the ground party returned to “Pedo 1” and we all departed the area at 0515Z for Nong Khai and then Udorn.

Rescue cap was provided throughout the entire mission by 2 flights of 4 T-28s.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The automatically accuated beacons, URC 21 etc, should be on another frequency between 241 and 245 KC. These frequencies would be compatable with our present Sarah equipment and would not havee the jamming effects on 243 KC. Voice contact and control is most important in the pick up phase of the mission, but due to the inaccessable position of the URC 21 hung in the tree it could not be turned off for over 2 hours and 45 minutes. All helicopters hovering over the pilot complained of the loud noise level of the beacon. The ground party was forced to send a man back to the helicopter to relay instructions as no contact could be made with their URC 10s due to the beacon. Having the beacon 242 or 244 KC would allow rescue aircraft to locate the downed man then switch to 243 KC for voice communication with him. In this case, voice communicatons might have saved the man an injury from the initial pick up attempt and certainly would have hastened his overall recovery by an hour. Capt. Ross H. Hutchinson, Rescue Crew Commander, 36 ARS. 

“Pedro 2”  co-pilot William Wirstrom remembered:

This mission just kind of developed.  We had a call from the Rescue Group Commander, Lt. Col Krafka that an F-105 pilot had bailed out in Laos. Air America had tried to pick him up with an H-34.  It had a horse coller sling but the cable was not long enough. The pilot was stuck in the tree and when he placed the coller on, they tried to pull him out, but his harness was stuck in the trees. This gave him a dislocated shoulder.

Capt. Berthold was the LBR duty pilot and he would have had the mission but we - Capt. Allen and myself - launched, as we had pre-briefed if we went over the border. Capt. Allen and I landed in a near clearing to save fuel. Capt. Berthold landed a few kilometers away from the F-105 pilot and preceeded on the ground. TSgt. Free was in this party. 

When Capt. Berthold arrived below the pilot, it was determined that they could not get to him. They ask us - Capt. Allen - to launch and hover overhead. We were to tie a rope to our cable (also 100ft)  to allow it to go to the ground through the trees. TSgt. Free then would tie himself to the rope, we would bring him up to the 105 pilot, he would cut away the tree limbs and then drop him and Free to the ground attached to the rope/cable. We did this to the point of getting TSgt. Free up to the pilot and then free of the tree limbs, but it was determined at that time by Capt. Berthold, that it would be a rough trip up a mountain and through jungle they had gone through, so a decision was made - unbeknown to TSgt. Free - to bring both TSgt. Free and the F-105 pilot (he had passes out) up out and clear of the trees and carry them below the helicopter hanging on the rope. This had to be done because the one man left in the back could not pull then in on the rope in the air. We pulled them out, flew for about two or three miles hanging below and then let them down on a clearing on a mountain top. We then placed both in the H-43 and flew back to Udorn AB.

TSgt. Free was awarded the Airmans Medal for his efforts. By the way, we did not have PJ 's while I was there. TSgt. Free was a Medical Tech. PJ 's joined the unit after I had departed.

Area of operations PedroNews2005Area of operations Thailand, Laos, & North Vietnam – published in “Pedro News”, Jan2005 


03.02      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  27 July 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-754-27Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA    

Source: Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11 , IRIS 00491713 , page 4,5in USAF Collection, AFHRA  


Rescue Mission number  38-754-27Jul65

CH-3C   63-9685   "Shed85"    assigned to  DET.1, 38 ARS, Nakhon Phanom AB

Flown by RCC  Capt. George C. Martin,  1Lt. Orville N. Keese (co-pilot), SSgt. Curtis W. Pert (FE),  SSgt. George Thayer (PJ)

HH-43B            “Pedro 1”   assigned to  DET.5, 38 ARS, Udorn AB                          Flown by unknown crew                  

HH-43B            “Pedro 2”   assigned to  DET.5, 38 ARS, Udorn AB                          Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4407  “Dogwood 2”  Capt. Frank J. Tullo   - 12 TFS, 18  TFW   Korat AB

Shot down over North Vietnam, Loction  ca.35 NM  Northwest of Hanoi


From:  Combat Mission Narrative  - AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-page 4,5:

Four F-105 aircraft were downed while flying against  SAM missile sites in North Vietnam. Of the four downed aircraft only one chute was reported. A CH-3C helicopter which was prepositioned at a forward site in Laos (Lima Site 36), was launched to recover survivos. It entered the same area where the four aircraft had been downed, approximately 35 miles west of Hanoi, and was led to the downed pilot by RESCAP aircraft. The survivor was on a heavily wooded slope and marked his position with red smoke. The helicopter was forced to hover at approximately 80 feet above the pilot due to the high trees. After the pilot had put on the hoist harness and was raised 10 feet a hoist malfunction occurred. The crew was unable to lift the pilot the remaining 70 feet manually. The crew decided a landing would have to be made in order to rescue the survivor, so they flew to a rice paddy ½ mile away with the survivor dangling 70 feet below the helicopter. Immediately after landing and recovering the survivor the helicopter came under automatic weapons fire and received 3 hits, one of which missed the fuel tanks by 6 inches. The remainder of the return journey was uneventful. CH-3C aircraft commander was Capt. George C. Martin, and rescued F-105D pilot was Capt. Frank Tullo. 

Narrative Report, Mission Number 38-754-27Jul65 , as written by Captain Reeves, who was the Rescue Crew Commander on HC-54D with call-sign “SPUD 29” , serial number 42-72666 , 36th ARS on TDY to DET.5, 38th ARS at Udorn AB.

Captain Reeves’ Report :  This report concerns mission 754, which was flown on 27 July 1965. The crew members of the HC-54D were: RCC Capt Robert R. Reeves, 48th ARS ; co-pilot, Capt Emmett E. Williams, Jr. , 36th ARS; Navigator, Capt Harrison N. Yoneda, 36th ARS; Flight Mechanic, TSgt Floyd L. England, 36th ARS; Flight Mechanic, SSgt Antranig A. Gurvnlian, 48th ARS; Radio Operator, SSgt Newton C. Boykin, 54th ARS.

Mission objective was to escort a CH-3C helicopter, call-sign SHED 85, to LIMA SITE 36, then orbit site 36 and standby for possible recovery of downed pilots. 

At 0420Z, we (HC-54D) departed Udorn AB, Thailand. We arrived at orbit area ALPHA (20-00N 104-29E) at 0449Z. At 0500Z SHED 85 was intercepted. We contacted 03Z, an Air America aircraft, for Lima Site 36 and site 98 weather. 03Z reported some holes in broken layers and alright for arrival of SHED 85 at site 98. He reported site 36 weather to be overcast with bases at 5,500 ft. The overcast had a hole 20NM wide and visibility was good. From our position the weather looked unfavorable in all quadrants as far as could be seen.

SHED 85 was somewhat concerned with the weather at both sites, but continued on to site 98 which was enroute to site 36. At 0610Z  SHED 85 landed at site 98 to refuel. Because of the questionable weather he felt that a refueling stop was necessary in the interest of safety.

Two HH-43B helicopters from Udorn, PEDRO 1 and 2, also landed at site 98 approximately the same time. SPUD 06, another HC-54D from Udorn had escorted the PEDRO choppers to site 98. Together we orbited site 98 while waiting for SHED 85 to refuel.

SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2 were remaining at site 98 on alert.

At 0620Z we were advised that the weather at site 36 was favorable for SHED 85 to land. We attempted contact with SHED 85 on UHF and HF which he had been advised to maintain contact on while at site 98. We attempted contact through PEDRO aircraft without success.

At 0642Z we finally contacted PEDRO 2  and he advised SHED 85 to take off ASAP as directed by Hq 38 ARS. SHED 85 advised us he would have fuel for 2+00 hrs flight when reaching site LS36, providing he landed and dropped off some personnel and other weight. His ground time for refueling was 25 min. and this would give him 4+00 hrs of fuel.

SHED 85 and SPUD 29 departed site LS98.

At 0725Z we heard a call to BRIGHAM (Udorn Radar) over UHF, giving the following position of HEALY-2 who went down 21-00N  105-18E. We advised SHED 85, SPUD 06, and Hq 38th ARS.

38th ARS advised us that CHESTNUT flight was due over target in 20 min and would provide RESCAP.

At 0740Z CHESTNUT 20 advised that CEDAR 2 had also gone down at 21-05N  105-14E.

At 0753Z 38th advised CHEVY fligth would be in target area for RESCAP at 0803Z.

At 0755Z we advised SHED 85 to take on enough fuel for 3 trips to target area and return as per 38th ARS instructions. 85 advised he could only make 2 trips.

At 0810Z  SHED 85 landed at site LS36 and refueled.

PEDRO 1 and 2 were close behind and also refueled at LS36.

At 0810Z LEOPARD and CHEVY flights advised they were in the area and had negative electronic signals or visual of any of the downed pilots.

At 0813Z VICTORY LEAD relayed through WHIPLASH flight that DOGWOOD 02 had gone down at 21-00N  104-58E.

At 0825Z DOGWOOD 01 relayed that an electronic signal had been received from DOGWOOD 02 at 21-13N  104-56E.

At 0832Z 38th ARS advised that SAM ENVELOPE was effective for 45NM radious of Hanoi. We were advised to remain clear and not approach the 45 NM radious above 1500 feet. This message was relayed to all aircraft in the target area.

At 0902Z  DOGWOOD Flight departed target area.

At 0914Z SHED 85 departed site LS36. CHESTNUT and CHEVY flights departed area and WHIPLASH entered the area. We escorted SHED 85 via site LS107 to the Black River 6 NM west of Yan Yen, North Vietnam.

At 0940Z one CHESTNUT aircraft who had remained on scene reported that he had sighted the pilot in an isolated area and that he was O.K. He estimated the elevation to be 2000 feet and was receiving electronic contacts each 15 minutes.

At approximately 0942Z SPUD 06 requested RESCAP as he was behind us and approximately 25 NM south of us.

At this time we only had 2 A-1H's for low coverage. The RESCAP flights coming in were having to leave for refueling on the tankers or returning home plate. We requested all available RESCAP in order to help cover SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2. We especialy needed low coverage for search, however we were advside that all A-1H’s  and A-1E’s were committed on missions.

At 0947Z  DART 98 and CANASTA 3 entered the target area.

At 1005Z  PANTHER 120 and SUNDOWN 112 entered the area.

SHED 85 was advised to contact CANASTA flight for vector into target area.

At 1025Z we reached the Black River and orbited to stay out of 45 NM range of Hanoi.

SHED 85 continued heading 070  as vecored by CANASTA flight.

At 1030Z PANTHER and SUNDOWN flights departed area and CHESTNUT 3 and COBRA flights arrived on scene. CHESTNUT 3 was sent low to help with low cover of SHED 85.

At 1026Z we advised SPUD 06 that LEOPARD (F-4C  Ubon) and COBRA flights were inbound and to contact them for RESCAP in their area. We also sent WHIPLASH flight to their area to cover until COBRA and LEOPARD came on scene.

At 1038Z  CANASTA 572 and CANASTA 574 *)  sited SHED 85 and lead him to the survivor at 1049Z and at 1102Z SHED 85 advised he could not hoist the pilot up due to a hoist malfunction. He was vectored to a clearing by CANASTA flight where he landed.

At 1113Z SHED 85 reported that the pilot had gotten out of the horse collar and was on board in good physical and mental condition. 

At approximately this time SPUD 06 advised they were given instructions to return to site LS36 as no visual or electronic contacts had been made at any of the other locations.

At 1114Z we vectored SHED 85 to our orbit position and at 1120Z we departed orbit with SHED 85 enroute to site LS36.

At 1143Z Hq 38 ARS requested to know if any aircraft were available at site LS36 to evacuate the pilot. SHED 85 reported a malfunction with one of his engines **) and felt that a night flight under these conditions was too hazardous to risk. PEDRO 1 and 2 were of the same opinion.

There were no other aircraft available for evacuation so 38th ARS advised that Air America would evacuate him the next morning.

At 1210Z two Air America helicopters took off and orbited site LS36 in order to vector us in as it was dark. They also ignited 4 oil drums by 1220Z. Along with SHED 85 we arrived over site LS36. The two Air America choppers led 85 down and he was on the site at 1228Z.

He reported ground fire damage and advised he would talk to tech rep before departing. We vectored SPUD 06 and PEDRO 1 and 2 into site LS36 at 1232Z. The 2 Air America choppers lead PEDRO 1 and 2 down to site LS36. At 1259Z we departed site LS36 with SPUD 06. We landed at Udorn AB at 1405Z. SPUD 06 landed approximately 1415Z. 

*)   Pilot names for Canasta Flight were: Lt. Cdr. Edwin A. Greathouse and  Lt(jg) Jimmy S. Lynne  ; aircraft “574” was  a A-1J  BuNo 142021 VA-25  code NE-574


From the website  “USAF Rotorheads”   http://rotorheadsrus.us/ web master James Burns -Newsletter “Rotor Wash” - Comment by DET.CO. Capt. Joe Ballinger:

Most of the time the CH-3C’s worked alone (one bird) out of Lima Site 36 for the deep north missions. When George made their first pickup, the hoist went down and only came part way back up. They had to carry Tullo on the end to a rice paddy and have Pert, HM, and Thayer, PJ pull him in. The engines were not only small, they power deteriorated badly, and George had to over boost and over temp getting out of there. They had to change one engine when they got back to Site 36. They didn’t have any remote area stands to change it, so the guys threw a rope over the rotor blades, dropped out the bad one, and put on a good one that Air America flew in. 


CH3C Capt Tullo 27Jul65 LaPointeCD

Capt. George Martin and Capt. Frank Tullo (at right); in the door, SSgt. Curtis Pert – at Lima Site 36 the next day, 28 Jul65. Aircraft is CH-3C 63-9685  "Shed85" -  Photo from the collection of Robert LaPointe.

The foremost problem during this mission was the enormous amount of UHF traffic working 364.2 . SPUD 06 was escorting and controlling PEDRO 1 and 2 into one area as we were doing the same with SHED 85. RESCAP was coming in and out so rapidly that it was almost impossible to keep record of the aircraft. This was due mainly to the short bingo times for the majority of the aircraft. This also created a heavy workload on UHF. There was a shortage of A-1H’s for low level search and cover. Most of the jet aircraft were too low on fuel to provide low level search.

The CH-3C crew seemed to lack confidence in our ability to navigate. He continually asked where he was and if we knew our position. This created more excess traffic on UHF. I recommend that two separate frequencies be used when two missions are being processed in close proximity. This of course would have to be coordinated in advance for RESCAP aircraft arriving on scene. 

Particularly worthy of note was the risk SHED 85 took in continuing to the target area even though one of his engines had flamed out on landing at site 36 enroute. Also CANASTA 572 and 574 stayed on scene to guide SHED 85 to the survivor. They stretched their bingo time 30 minutes rather than leave the survivors position. The Air America helicopters and ground lighting were responsible for speedy location of site 36 during darkness. Without them it is possible we may not have found it at all. 

Overall this rescue was successful due to the combined efforts and cooperation of all elements involved. The TACAN on the destroyer LOCAMOTIVE was invaluable in pin pointing our positions. Due to the increased traffic through site 36, I recommend placement of some type of homing BEACON there. It would help more than anything I can think of to recommend. Actually a portable TACAN at site LS36 would probably the best solution. In this area the helicopters fly high enough to receive TACAN. With TACAN equipment installed their capability would be increased considerably. 


03.03      USAF  RESCORT  A-1E  to  Udorn AB     1965

Source:  Book,  Hukee, Byron E., “USAF and VNAF A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War”,  Osprey Combat Aircraft Book 97, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (2013)

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-761-28Jul65 , IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

From the Book by Byron E. Hukee: 

On the day the above (see chapter 03.02) described Rescue Mission took place, 27 July 1965, Capt. John Larrison led a four-ship flight from Bien Hoa AB to Udorn AB. This was the first out-of-country deployment for the unit’s A-1Es  -  the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando).

Upon landing at Udorn, the pilots were immediately taken to the SAR operations HQ, where they were given a detailed briefing on the disasterous air strikes that had been flown earlier that day against SA-2 “Guideline” surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites around Hanoi - the first such attacks of the conflict, which had seen six F-105D’s shot down.

The A-1E pilots were told that their mission was to provide low altitude air cover for the SAR operations, just west of Hanoi. There was an airborne command post directing activities and jet aircraft providing high cover and MIGCAP. They were to stay low, as the SAMs then in use were ineffective below 5000 ft. However, at that lower altitude small arms and AAA fire became more effective.

Early the next morning, 28 July, two A-1Es were placed on strip alert, with the remaining two aircraft serving as backups. That afternoon, while Capt. Larrison and his wingman were on strip alert, word came through, that a US Navy pilot had been forced to eject from his A-4E Skyhawk following premature detonation of his bombs over a target in southern North Vietnam. A good chute had been seen by his wingman and contact had been made with the pilot on the ground.

A rescue mission was underway and HH-43B aircraft from Det.1, 38 ARS at NKP were en route to the site. The A-1Es were scrambled to provide low air cover for the pickup. It was less than an hour to the SAR site  (For Mission Report see the NKP Review, chapter 08.05, on this website :  https://www.ragay.nl/hh-43-sea/nkp ).

The downed pilot was located by the A-1E aircraft which led the helicopters to the scene, 50NM of Bong Hoi. The A-1E  aircraft had to conduct continuing attacks against hostile troops that were attempting to reach the downed pilot. As the helicopter moved in for the pickup the A-1Es laid down covering fire. The survivor was located on the side of a hill, and in order for the helicopter to manuever over the pilot to effect the pickup it was necessary to have the blades come within inches of the side of the mountain. The pickup was successful and an uneventful flight back to Nakhon Phanom AB followed. The two Skyraiders landed there also.

The survivor, LT JG Townsend, was quickly taken to the flight surgeon on base for a check over, and after getting two small bandages applied to cuts on his forehead, he was discharged. Anxious to return to his squadron (VA-23, embarked aboard USS Midway, CVA-41), Townsend accepted the offer of a lift as far as Udorn from Captain Larrison - the Naval Aviator duly rode in the right seat of one of the A-1Es. 

A-1E  back to Bien Hoa AB

After a further two days of airborne alert, but without any additional SAR commitments, the four Skyraiders were flown back to Bien Hoa AB.

A few weeks after the flight had returned home, the 602nd FS(C) set up a two-week SAR rotation of four aircraft into Udorn AB. The initial purpose of this detachment was to provide low altitude air cover for SAR operations in North Vietnam and Laos. What Capt. Larrison did not know at the time was that the temporary duty commitment to Udorn would rapidly expand in size, and the entire 602nd FS(C) would move there a little over a year. 

It was also during this period (second half of 1965) that the radio call-sign “Sandy” became synonymous with the A-1 Skyraider SAR mission. It’s first appearance came when Capt. W. J. “Doc” George led four replacement A-1Es to Udorn AB.

His Bien Hoa AB departure call-sign had been “Sandy”, and upon the flight’s arrival at Udorn AB, “Doc” was asked what call-sign he would like to use while there. His reply, “Sandy” , subsequently spread theatre-wide to become the A-1’s SAR call-sign until war’s end.

During the second half of 1965 the 602nd flew many of its sorties from Udorn AB. Used call signs were “Sandy 11, 12, 13 and 14”.

A1E 52132633 lateNov65 GaryPruitt

USAF  A-1E  Skyraider 52-132633 at Udorn late November 1965. Then assigned to 602nd FS(C) at Bien Hoa AB, RVN. Note small, unidentified emblem on tail and “1” printed on the nose.  Photo by Gary Pruitt - this is a still, copied from his 8mm film.

On 6 November 1965, while flying from the base, two “Sandys” were downed during a SAR mission over North Vietnam. Capt Richard Bolstad (in 132469) and Cap George McKnight (in 132439) were both hit by large calibre AAA while searching for a downed F-105D pilot who had been lost near Phu Ban the previous day. This ultimately fruitless SAR effort (the Thunderchief pilot, LtCol G. C. McCleary, had been killed when his jet was hit by a SAM) led to the loss of two helicopters and two Skyraiders, plus damage to four other A-1s, together with the loss of five airmen. All five downed on 6 November became POWs, but were returned in 1973 during Operation “Homecoming”. 

At Udorn the A-1E’s used three call-signs  -  “Sandy” , “Firefly” , and “Dragonfly”. 

“Sandy” was (and still is throughout the USAF) the SAR call-sign, while “Firefly” and “Dragonfly” were used for armed reconnaissance, interdiction and armed FAC roles. Missions going north out of Udorn to northern Laos and some areas of North Vietnam used “Firefly” , while missions to the east into the southern Laotian panhandle and Route Pack I of southern North Vietnam used “Dragonfly”. 


03.04      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  12 August 1965

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-817-12Aug65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   (researched document on REEL 31113, page 660-61)  

Rescue Mission number  38-817-12Aug65

CH-3C                   DET.1, 38 ARS                                                        Flown by unknown crew

HH-43B                 DET.5, 38 ARS                                                        Flown by unknown crew                   

HH-43B                 DET.5, 38 ARS                                                        Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  A-4E  150067   Lt. W. Fiddelibus   - VA-155

Shot down over North Vietnam, Loction  20 NM  W of Thanh Hoa             no save, pilot captured

From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

Scrambled a CH-3C from Nakhon Phanom AB at 0350H (this was during the night). Lauched a HU-16B from Da Nang AB at 0500H. Lauched two HH-43B’s and a HC-54D from Udorn AB at 0604H. Electronic search was done through the night by all aircraft which were flying missions in the area. At first light Navy aircraft made low altitude sweeps. The A-4E was apparently downed by a missile. It was reported going down in flames by wingman. No chute spotted or electronic signals received. The area was one of heavy enemy concentration. The active search was suspended. 


03.05      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  13 August 1965

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-821-13Aug65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  (researched document on REEL 31113, page 635-36) 

Rescue Mission number  38-821-13Aug65

CH-3C                DET.1, 38 ARS                                                              Flown by unknown crew

HH-43B              DET.5, 38 ARS                                                              Flown by unknown crew                  

HH-43B              DET.5, 38 ARS                                                              Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  RF-101C  56-0186  Capt. F.M. Mellor   - 15 TRS, 363 TRW

Shot down, unknown location                           no save, no survivor

From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

Search operations commenced at first light, and continued throughout the day. Extensive low and high altitude visual and electronic search was conducted with negative results. The next day, 14 August, the Deputy Commander 2nd Air Division at Udorn AB suspended active search efforts.

Total sorties and flying time on 13 August 1965:


1 sortie

1:00 hours


4 sorties

6:10 hours


2 sorties

4:00 hours

USAF F-104

4 sorties

5:40 hours

Air America  H-34

3 sorties

6:04 hours


And for 14 August 1965:


2 sorties

14:44 hours


4 sorties

19:56 hours

ÚSAF F-105

16 sorties

63:00 hours


2 sorties



1 sortie

4:00 hours


1 sortie

2:00 hours


2 sorties

2:30 hours


03.06      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  28 August 1965

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-872-28Aug65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   (researched document on REEL 31113, page 590-93) 

Rescue Mission number  38-872-28Aug65

HH-43B                 DET.5, 38 ARS                                                              Flown by unknown crew

HH-43B                 DET.5, 38 ARS                                                              Flown by unknown crew

CH-3C  63-9685   DET.1, 38 ARS                                                               Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  63-8282  Capt. W.D. Schierman   -   67 TFS, 18 TFW     Korat AB

Shot down            no save, survivor POW

From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

The prepositioned HC-54D was notified at 0445Z. At 0450Z two HH-43B’s were scrambled. At 0513Z a CH-3C was launched to a forward operating site as back up. Electronic signal received for short times after aircraft went down. Signal lost after first few hours. In the search area extensive ground fire was encountered. One HH-43B and the HC-54D were hit by ground fire. One US Navy A-1H was downed, no chute or beacon was recorded. Wingman doubts any chance of survivor. Voice contact was reported in one instance. But it was reported as sounding oriental. The Rescue Mission was suspended.


03.07      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  31 August 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-882-31Aug65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Source: Rescue Mission 38-882-31Aug65, file K318-221-38-Hist-38ARS- Jul-Sep65, IRIS no. unknown, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission number  38-882-31Aug65       DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B     “Pedro 1”     

Flown by RCC  Capt. David E. Allen,  1/Lt. John K. Forsythe (co-pilot), A2C Bedford T. Lockard (MT), A3C George O. Lepsey (HM)

HH-43B     “Pedro 2”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Hoyt B. Hurt, Capt. Jake C. Hart (co-pilot), TSgt William Fulford (MT), A1C Robert W. Dager (HM)

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  61-0185  Maj. Henry Bollinger   - 67 TFS, 18 TFW   Korat AB

Shot down  about 40 miles  SW of Phu Tho, NVN   

Captain Bollinger, was making a bomb run on a target in North Vietnam when his F-105D was hit. He was able to fly over one mountain ridge and ejected.  


Narrative Report, Mission 38 ARS - 882 - 31Aug65, made up by Capt. David E. Allen, Det.5  Commander: 

Mission 38 882 31Aug65 AFHRA

Additionally, two men were seen running up a stream bed about 100 yards from the hovering helicopter. The co-pilot, alert to such an emergency, fired his M-16 in automatic almost continuously during the entire hoist operation. The helicopter did not sustain any battle damage. The survivor was in good condition, although he had a deep lasceration in his left ear. The medic treated it and bleeding stopped. ”Pedro 1” rejoined “Pedro 2” and both helicopters proceeded to deployment site (Lima Site) 36 for re-fueling, landing at 1645L. They departed site 36 at 1715 arriving Udorn AB at 1925L. Total time  8 hours 20 minutes - 6 sorties. 


03.08      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  02 September 1965

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-889-2Sep65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   (researched document on REEL 31113, page 587-89) 

Rescue Mission number  38-889-2Sep65       DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B                                                                    Flown by unknown crew               

HH-43B                                                                    Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4389    Capt. J.Q. Collins   - 36 TFS

Shot down                                  no save/survivor POW    

From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

The alerting agency, 2nd AD at Udorn AB, was notified at 02 Sept/1000Z. SAR forces were to be deployed at first light. Two HH-43B were on ground alert at Lima Site 36 and were scrambled at first light. A good chute was reported by wingman of the downed F-105. Extensive search was undertaken the next day. Negative visual or voice contact. Beacon signals were received from two different locations approximately 10 miles apart.  One location was in a well populated area, the other was in a densely wooded area. The search was suspended on 4 September after another day of extensive search by flights of HC-54D, F-105’s (20 sorties, for 67 hours total), F-4C’s (12 sorties, for 38 hours total), KC-135A, USAF A-1E and USNavy A-1H’s. The HH-43B’s flew 6 sorties for a total of 15 hours. 


03.09      Rescue  mission      -  06 September 1965

Source:  Rescue Mission Report  38-901-6Sep65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission number  38-901-6Sep65       DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B              (only one HH-43 scrambled) 

Flown by RCC  Capt. Herbert M. Berthold,  1Lt. William C. Wirstrom (co-pilot),  and  ? 

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4400  Capt. Gary D. Barnhill   - 562 TFS    Takhli AB

Pilot bailed out 65 NM SE of Udorn AB.  Aircraft developed a fuel leak while air-refueling, the pilot quickly disconnected as his aircraft caught fire. He ejected shortly before his a/c exploded      

From a very briefly Rescue Mission Report :

An F-105 pilot bailed out 65 NM SE of Udorn Air Base. “Bringham” CRC (Combat Reporting Center) at Udorn AB received initial notification and ARS scrambled one HH-43 from Udorn AB at 0945Z. The HH-43 landed in area of bailout, and recovered the pilot. The survivor was in good condition and was flown to Udorn AB. 


03.10      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  10 September 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-917-10Sep65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   (researched document on REEL 31113, page 602-05)

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-919-10Sep65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission number  38-917-10Sep65       DET.5, 38 ARS           plus : 38-919-10Sep65 *)

HH-43B                                                                      Flown by unknown crew                 

HH-43B                                                                      Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  A-4E   149991   LCDR Wendell Burke Rivers   - VA-155

Shot down  10 miles  SE of Vinh, NVN              no save/good chute  - pilot captured

From a briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

TACC at Udorn AB was notified by wingman of downed A-4E at 1430H. The prepositioned HU-16B “Mabel Bravo” was diverted to the area. Also two HH-43B’s were alerted, and the HC-54 was diverted from it’s prepositioned orbit to escort the HH-43B’s. Reports stated that heavy ground fire was received from the general area of downed man. Shortly after the initial sighting of the chute, the A-4E pilot disappeared. There were many unfriendly troops in the immediate area. The area had numerous friendly aircraft, but the pilot was never seen again nor were any electronic signals ever received. Crew which were debriefed stated that the chance of the pilot evading were slim. One USAF A-1E was hit by ground fire. This pilot was forced down and a water pick up was made. *) see here below

The next day, search continued with negative result. Also on 12 September electronic search was executed by many fighter aircraft. The search mission was suspended this date. 

*)  Narrative of Rescue Mission 38-919-10Sep65 for the A-1E which was hit :

Pilot of USAF A-1E, Call Sign “Sandy 11”, reported that his wingman “Sandy 12”, was trailing smoke after being hit by ground fire on a search for a downed A-4E pilot near Vinh, North Vietnam. HU-16B “Mabel Bravo” ( RCC Captain Martin D. Vatis and crew of 31 ARS), as on scene commander,  was orbiting at 10.000 feet, over water, southeast of Vinh, during search for an A-4E pilot. Upon notification that “Sandy 12” was hit and trailing smoke, HU-16B descended and intercepted him as he flew out to sea. HU-16B immediately turned on-scene command of the search near Vinh over to an HC-54D  “Fade 20”, who was also in the area. HU-16B escorted “Sandy 12” toward friendly territory but “Sandy 12” was forced to ditch when oil pressure dropped to zero -  location 40 miles East of Dong Hoi. HU-16B landed within 30 seconds of “Sandy 12” and pilot was in water approximately 3 to 4 minutes. The pick-up was capped by “Sandy 11”, HU-16B  “Mabel Charlie”, and by two USMC H-34 helicopters  “Millpoint 1-1”  and “1-2” , which were scrambled from Quang Tri as backup. The survivor, Capt. Paul V. Graybill Jr., assigned to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando), was flown to Da Nang AB, RVN.    (note :  “Sandy 12”  was A-1E  52-132669)  


03.11      Rescue  mission      -  15 September 1965

Source: No Rescue Mission Report available - Mission is included in a letter, filed on microfilm             REEL31113 -page 827, IRIS 01009281 , in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission number  5-38-54-15Sep65       DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B                                                                        Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  T-28  Thai AF

Crashed on Udorn AB runway        

 Details for this Rescue Mission are not available.


03.12      Rescue  mission  into North Vietnam    -  17 September 1965

Source:   Rescue Mission Report  38-940-17Sep65, IRIS No. unknown, in USAF Collection, AFHRA (researched document on REEL 31113, page 597-99) 

Rescue Mission number  38-940-17Sep65       DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B                                                                      Flown by unknown crew                 

HH-43B                                                                      Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4247    1Lt. D.A. Klenda   - 67 TFS

Shot down                                  no save/KIA


Narrative Report, Mission Number 940, written by Capt. John W. McAllister, RCC of  HC-54D call sign “Acute 34” , assigned to 36 ARS  (TDY to Det.5 at Udorn AB): 

On 17 September 1965 “Acute 34” (HC-54D) was flying mission number 940 orbiting over Site 36, when at 0450Z we received a radio transmission from “Willow lead”  that number two aircraft in his flight had been damaged. I requested their position and damaged aircraft intentions. “Willow lead”  gave their position as 21.10N - 104.11E). “Pedro” aircraft were notified to get airborne and start for Site 107 and from there to Mong Het airport and orbit. I started for Mong Het and awaited at Site 107 for the “Pedros”  and then again at Mong Het.

High and Low cover was requested. “Pontiac” and “Gator” flights joined the “Willow” aircraft and were shown the area of the downed aircraft. “Willow” aircraft searched the area and made no sitings. I moved in within eleven miles of the area and controlled the mission from that position until the “Sandy” aircraft arrived at Mong Het.

I directed the “Pedros” to remain at their present position and took the “Sandy’s”  into the search area. The “Sandy” aircraft were directed to the area by “Gator” flight. There was no indication of ground fire, so I moved the HC-54D into the area to help with search. An area 20 miles by 38 miles was covered by the “Sandy’s” , “Willow” and “Gator” flights and the HC-54D.

No beeper was heard nor was the downed aircraft found. The “Sandy’s” found drop tanks, but no other evidence was noted. “Willow lead” said he thought he saw the seat leave the aircraft but he did not see the chute open. “Sandy’s” noted light ground fire in two areas but nothing else. At no time did the “Pedros” enter the area, they remained at Mong Het. Radio chatter was held to an absolute minimum. Complete cooperation by all parties made the mission go as smoothly as possible. The only thing that could have made it any better would have been the pick up of the pilot. I called the search off at 0800Z and departed the area. 

USAF HC-54D       “Acute”

2 sorties

18:05 hours


8 sorties

26:15 hours

USAF F-105          “Willow”

15 sorties

69:20 hours


3 sorties

10:15 hours

USAF A1E              “Sandy”

2 sorties

10:10 hours

USAF HH-43B        “Pedro”

2 sorties

  7:30 hours

Aircraft type for call sign  “Pontiac” and “Gator” flights is unknown


03.13    NKP needed ACR support - September 1965 

Early July 1965 Det.1, 38 ARS at Nakhon Phanom AB (NKP) received two CH-3C on loan from TAC. They were badly needed for the ACR Mission of Det.1 in addition to the three assigned HH-43B aircraft.

However, already as of 25 August CH-3C 63-9676 needed engine change and did not fly up to 25 September because there was no spare engine available. On September 26 it made a test flight with a newly delivered engine.

On 20 September 1965 “Duchy 41” (HH-43B 62-4510) was shot down and HH-43B 60-0280 badly damaged during the same mission. HH-43B 60-0279 already needed an engine and transmission change  and was grounded as of 21 September. This reduced the 5 aircraft-unit to just ONE CH-3C (63-9685) for rescue alert missions.

Captain William Wirstrom remembers:  In September of 1965 we lost Capt Tom Curtis and his Copilot out of NKP ("Duchy 41"). 

Capt Berthold and I went over to help them out.  Capt Joe Ballinger was their Commander.  It was a sad time at NKP because they had been living a magic life with hope that no one would be lost before their departure. After a week Bert and I returned to Udorn.

         (Source :  Pedro News, issue April 2005,  Editors Paul J. Metzner and Stephen P. Mock Article  “Jumping the Fence”, by Bill Wirstrom)

Two Det.5 aircraft were present at NKP during the following days : 25-27-28-29 September 1965.

         (source: AFHRA file, History Det.5 on microfilm REEL 31113, p192-196)

Both Huskies 0279 and 0280 were back in commission around 29 September, and were standing alert again – with the assistance of two pilots from Det.5. 


03.14                                         The END of  Det.1, 38 ARS operations  - first week of  October 1965 

                                                                   All  Det.1  NKP aircraft reassigned to Det.5, 38 ARS 

                                                Nakhon Phanom AB (NKP) became a Forward Operating Base for Det.5 

Source: AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-Support Documents, IRIS 00491713, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  - Hist. Oct-Dec65, page 20-21,and DET.5 History page 67-70.   

Detachment 1, 38ARS came to a sudden end during the first week of October 1965, upon ending of the TDY duty of the “Ballinger Group”.

Captain Ballinger, Det.1 Commander, left NKP as last person on 10 October 1965. Also the Group of Capt. George Martin (the CH-3C crews) ended their TDY during the month of October, although some elected to stay with the new arrivals (HH-3C). 

The two Det.1 HH-43B’s and the two newly arrived HH-43F aircraft (05 October), as well as the two CH-3C ‘s were reassigned to Det .5, 38 ARS at Udorn AB. Detachment 5, 38 ARS took over the coverage that Det.1 had been furnishing at Nakhon Phanom AB, in addition to the other areas Det.5 had been covering. However, the former Det.1 Huskies and CH-3C’s remained present at NKP on a daily basis. 

NKP became a Forward Operating Base, as did Lima Site 36 in Laos (ca. 150 miles north of Udorn AB).

Report K717 414 1 1961 1966 IRIS00517392

Source: ChecoReport K717-414-1-Hist-1961-1966-Vol.1-page13-IRIS00517392, in USAF Collection AFHRA 


04.          TDY personnel replaced by a PCS crew -  September-October 1965

04.01      SECOND GROUP  -  PCS  personnel

Source: AFHRA file K318-2-1965-Vol.11-Support Documents, IRIS 00491713, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  - Hist. Oct-Dec65, page 67-70.   

Major Baylor R. Haynes became Commander of Det.5 since arriving at Udorn on October 4, 1965. He had the responsibility of carrying out the ACR mission in Laos and North Vietnam plus the LBR mission at Udorn AB.

Operations was run by Major Donald A. Vavra  and  Major Frank A. Schmidt

Personal accounts:    

 ---  Anthony Desmond, Firefighter, remembers:

In September 1965 I volunteered to go to Udorn, Thailand for 4 months TDY to fly as a FF on the helicopter. That was Det 5 of the 38th ARS.  The pilots and crew chiefs were assigned there for 1 year, however the FF's and medics came from several different bases in the U.S. and stayed for 4 months. That was called "Project Top Dog 60". 

---  Kenneth Griffis, HH-43 pilot, remembers:

From Glasgow AFB, MT (Det.1, CARC) I was sent to Udorn, arriving in September 1965 to set up the first permanent Rescue operation there. Air America was glad to see us and were happy to turn the rescue and recovery mission over to us.  Shortly after our arrival at Udorn, our detachment was split up and some personnel were transferred to Saigon.  I remained at Udorn and continued to fly HH-43F models, alternating from Udorn to NKP, back to Udorn, to FOB (Lima sites) in Laos, and back to Udorn, back to NKP, etc., every 3 or 4 days. 


04.02    Quarterly History      Det.5, 38 ARS     October - December 1965

Source :  File  K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-Supporting-Documents-IRIS00491713  - pages 20-21,67 thru 70, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Part of Detachment 5, the HH-3C unit, was formed at Stead AFB, NV during the period of 23 Aug to 30 Sep 1965. While at Stead, aircrews attended a special combat crew training course set up by headquarters Air Rescue Service under the code name of “Limelight 36”.

A special airlift force consisting of three C-130 aircraft airlifted the crewmembers to its overseas base on 30 September. The unit was in place at Udorn AB, on 4 October 1965. They joined up with the rest of the Det.5, the HH-43 unit which up till that time had been aiding in the Air Crew Recovery (ACR) mission.

Almost immediately, the “Limelight 36” members took over the ACR mission in Laos and North Vietnam. Aircrews were sent TDY to Nakhon Phanom AB for the purpose of getting route and area check outs of the forward operating bases. They used the two CH-3C which were then formerly assigned to Det.1, 38 ARS. After these check outs were completed, Det.5 took over the ACR mission which had been assigned to Det.1. The first two HH-3C aircraft were delivered to Udorn on 08 November 1965. 


Due to the large area assigned to Det.5 for Air Crew Recovery, flight crews and helicopters had to operate TDY out of a couple of Forward Operating Bases. One of these bases was Nakhon Phanom AB. There also was a classified forward operating base located in Laos about 150 miles north of Udorn AB, later known as Lima Site 36.


The primary mission of Det.5 was Air Crew Recovery (ACR) for all of Laos and North Vietnam. This was a very difficult and sometimes very dangerous mission and required the quickest reaction time possible to save the lives of downed pilots. To do this mission, Det.5 , at that time, had six HH-3C long range helicopters which operated from at least two Forward Operating Bases.

The secondary mission of Det.5 was to provide LBR at Udorn AB, which was the primary recovery base in northern Thailand for battle damaged aircraft returning from combat strikes in Laos or North Vietnam. The LBR mission was carried out with three HH-43B helicopters (by Dec65).


The ACR mission was carried out by having two HH-3C helicopters on tactical strip alert at Nakhon Phanom AB and two others on tactical strip alert at Lima Site 36 each day. This required sending aircrews and aircraft TDY to these Forward Operating Bases. A lot of support equipment had to be maintained at these bases for minor maintenance and the support of the aircrews on TDY. 

Due to the requirement of four HH-3C helicopters for tactical alert each day, there had been very little training for flight crews. Usually the other two HH-3C helicopters were undergoing maintenance for minor repairs so they would be in commission in case one of the alert helicopters should go out of commission. During the period Oct-Dec65, Det.5 had been severely hindered by lack of survival equipment for flying crews. There had been a definite shortage of survival radios (URC-10 and URC-11).


During the months of October and November 1965, the ACR was carried out with two CH-3C and several HH-43 helicopters. One of the CH-3C’s was lost to enemy fire on 6 Nov65. This left only one CH-3C to cover the ACR mission with the HH-43’s. 

01Oct65:  4 HH-43B of Det.5, and 2 HH-43B plus 2 HH-43F, formerly assigned to Det.1 (NKP)

01Nov65: 6 HH-43B and 4 HH-43F

31Dec65:  3 HH-43B


591590 late65 KE19513 PSP

591590 late65 KE19514 PSP

591590 late65 KE19549 PSP

HH-43B  59-1590  Det.5   late 1965  , USAF photos KE19513, KE19514 and KE19549 - collection NARA 

591590 late65 KE19515 PSP

HH-43B  59-1590  Det.5   late 1965  , USAF photo KE19515 (NARA) ; note the small USAF “star and bar”, made removable (see comment by pilot William Wirstrom - chapter 02.03), also note the black logo above the “star and bar”, a Huskie silhouette with load underneath (probably meant to be fuel drums in a net, see note Wirstrom). This is the only Huskie of 4 assigned Det.5 aircraft which used the removable “star and bar” as well as the Huskie logo.


During the months of November and December, six HH-3C helicopters were received from the States. 

HH-3C    64-14230, 64-14231

picked up at Sikorsky plant on 3 Nov65 by C-133,  delivered 09Nov65

HH-3C    64-14227, 64-14232

picked up at Sikorsky plant by C-133,                      delivered 15Nov65

HH-3C    64-14229, 64-14233

picked up at Sikorsky plant by C-133,                      delivered  08Dec65


HH3C 6414227 AFHRAdoc1965

HH-3C  64-14227  Det.5, 38 ARS   late 1965 - USAF photo from AFHRA file IRIS00491713


04.03      Rescue  mission into North Vietnam  -  13 Oct 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1027-13Oct65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source:  File  K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.11-CombatMissionNarrative-IRIS00491713, in USAF Collection, AFHRA - page 22, 76          

Rescue Mission number  38-1027-13Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS


Flown by RCC Capt. Jerry W. Jennings, Capt. James C. O’Dell (co-pilot), SSgt. Harold R. Schrader (HM), TSgt. William G. Daniels (PJ)

Two HH-43 were also involved according to the list of flown sorties for this mission


SAR Objective:  pilot  F-105D  61-0180  “Triumph 01”  Maj. James E. Randall  -   562 TFS   Takhli AB

pilot ejected over North Vietnam   

From Rescue Mission Report:

F-105D pilot Maj. James Randall was making a second pass on the bridge he had just bombed in North Vietnam for assessment when he encountered an emergency and was forced to eject. His wingman notified the HC-54D pilot on precautionary orbit of the bailout (at 1406H hours).

The HC-54D preceeded from Lima Site 36 toward the bailout scene and requested that the CH-3C (at Lima Site 36), and A-1E’s (at Udorn AB) be scrambled (at 1420H hours). Two additional A-1E’s were scrambled from Udorn at 1431H.

Maj. Randall had landed in a valley near a village. He began climbing a nearby hill, and at this time saw two men with rifles coming toward his position. Upon reaching the top of the hill he made contact with his flight via radio. Upon being told that the helicopter would require one hour to arrive at his location he requested that the orbiting aicraft leave his immediate area so as not to compromise his position.

While being directed by the HC-54D to the general vicinity of the downed pilot, the helicopter encountered anti-aircraft fire, but the pilot placed the aircraft behind a protective ridge. The pilot was forced to fly three low passes very slowly over the extremely dense and hazardous tangle of forest and brush in order to get a visual contact on the downed pilot. The helicopter drew ground fire during the low passes and it received some hits. Maj. Randall directed the A-1E’s to his position and they suppressed the ground fire.

It was discovered that the hoist would not work and that a hovering pickup therefore would be impossible. Radio contact was made with the downed pilot and he was instructed to move into an open area so a landing could be made.

The downed pilot was spotted and the rescue pilot landed in a tangle of vines, crushing them down with the aircraft until the downed pilot was within reach of the para rescue crewmember stationed at the door of the helicopter. The downed pilot was bodily pulled into the aircraft and the helicopter departed.

The HC-54D and the A-1E’s directed the helicopter back to Lima Site 36 for inspection. During the return trip to friendly territory, the helicopter was again subjected to anti-aircraft fire.

Later that day, an uneventful return journey to Udorn AB followed. A medical officer was standing by at Udorn, because Major Randall had at least one cut that would require stitches.

Captain Jennings was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in flying deep into VC-controlled territory to rescue a downed Air Force pilot.


04.04      Rescue  mission  into North Vietnam  -  18 Oct 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1044-18Oct65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA  (researched document on REEL 31113, page 571-73)            

Rescue Mission number  38-1044-18Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43                                                                         Flown by unknown crew

HH-43                                                                         Flown by unknown crew


SAR Objective:  pilots  F-4C  64-0730  “Argon 3”   Capt. T.E. Collins, 1stLt. E.A. Brudno  -   68 TFS

Shot down, 40 NM S of Vinh       - both crewmembers captured           POW   

From a briefly Rescue Mission Report : 

“Argon 4”, wingman of the downed F-4C, notified  the HU-16B  “Crown Bravo” on precautionary orbit at 1601H.  “Crown Bravo” diverted to the area of the downed crew and scrambled two A-1E’s RESCAP aircraft from Udorn AB. Good chutes were spotted and voice contact was made with survivors on the ground by wingman and told them to remain in area of their chutes as help was on the way. Twenty five minutes after bail out voice contact was lost and the chutes disappeared. When the helicopters arrived over the scene the survivors did not show themselves nor were and type of signal observed. One A-1E received minor damage from ground fire while make low level search. A beacon search was conducted the following morning with negative results. The search mission was suspended. 


04.05      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  27 Oct 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1069-27Oct65, IRIS No. 01009280, in USAF Collection, AFHRA   (researched document on REEL 31113, page 580-82) 

Rescue Mission number  38-1069-27Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43                                                                         Flown by unknown crew

HH-43                                                                         Flown by unknown crew

CH-3C                                                                         Flown by unknown crew

SAR Objective:  pilot  F-8E  150655  “Feedbag 115”  LT Dennis A. Moore    – VF-191  NM-105

Shot down over North Vietnam   -  Pilot ejected near village Man Nuong, he was captured. Released on 12 Feb 1973 during Operation Homecoming


Wingman of “Feedbag 115” notified HC-54D on precautionary orbit at 1420H and HC-54 diverted to incident site. The weather in the area of last known position: thunderstorms, ceilings down to zero, visibility down to zero, heavy rain, solid clouds from 1500 to 25000 feet. HC-54D alerted CH-3C at Lima Site 36 for scramble and at 1430H  two HH-43’s from Nakhon Phanom were alerted.

Additional info: aircraft reported downed by SAM. Wingman reported good chute and beacon. He was receiving the beacon for the 20 minutes his fuel permitted him to remain in area. No other aircraft have reported later beacon contact. HH-43’s from Nakhon Phanom, CH-3C from Lima 36 and HC-54D were not able to get into incident site due to severe weather. CAP aircraft were initially unsuccessful, but just prior to darkness were able to get into area for approx 20 minutes but with negative contact with survivor. 

The next day, 28 October, aircraft started at first light with search of the area and remained on station until 1111H. No beacon or visual contact was made with “Feedbag” after the initial short contact period when he first went down. The mission was suspended because search visually and electronically remained with negative results. Suspending has been coordinated with Dep Comdr 2ndAD at Udorn.

Total sorties / flying hours by type aircraft and agency:

For 27 Oct 65

F-105                 8 sorties

for 9 plus 00 hours

KC-135              1 sortie

for 3 plus 50 hours

USN A-1H         2 sorties


USAF A-1E        2 sorties

for 7 plus 00 hours


not available

HH-43                2 sorties

for 5 plus 00 hours

CH-3C                1 sortie

for 1 plus 35 hours

HC-54D              1 sortie

for 5 plus 00 hours


For 28 Oct 65

F-105                   4 sorties

for 20 plus 30 hours

KC-135                1 sortie

for  4 plus 15 hours

USN A-1H           2 sorties

for  8 plus 30 hours

USAF A-1E          2 sorties

for 10 plus 00 hours

USN F-4               2 sorties

for  1 plus 30 hours

HC-54D                1 sortie

for  4 plus 00 hours

USArmy CV-2B    1 sortie

for 20 plus 10 hours



04.06      Rescue  mission  into  Laos    -  28 Oct 1965

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 22 and 77, in USAF Collection, AFHRA       

Rescue Mission number  38-1073-28Oct65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43F  unknown serial  “Pedro 01” 

Flown by RCC  Capt. Donald R. Berdeaux, Capt. William R. Uhl (co-pilot), A1C Lyle J. Tadewald (HM), A1C Harry W. Birtel (PJ)

HH-43F  unknown serial  “Pedro 02”     

Flown by  RCC Capt. Charles E. McMillan, Capt. Charles P. Rush (co-pilot), A2C Andrew C. Paparella (HM)

SAR Objective :  crew  F-4B  150626   LCDR A.M. Lindsey and  LTJG Robert W. Cooper  – VF-41   USS Independence (CVA-62)

Shot down over Steel Tiger area of southern Laos   

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On 28 October 1965, a USN F-4B crewed by LCDR A.M. Lindsey and LTJG Robert W. Cooper encountered difficulty while on a mission over Laos and ejected. His wingman notified the prepositioned HU-16B, that in turn notified the RCC at Udorn AB, Thailand. Two A-1Es and one HC-54D were scrambled from Udorn AB, and two HH-43F’s took off from Nakhon Phanom AB.

Immediately upon reaching the area, the lead helicopter checked in with the HU-16B which was directing the operation, and received vectors to one of the downed pilots chute. While “Pedro 1” (lead helicopter) proceeded with the recovery of the downed pilot, the HU-16B spotted the second parachute and directed “Pedro 2” to the area. “Pedro 2” made three low passes over the immediate area before the second survivor was sighted. The distressed pilot was standing in elephant grass approximately twelve feet tall, with 100 feet trees surrounding him. The hoist was lowered and the survivor was brought safely into the helicopter. The pilot had to exceed the torque limitations of his aircraft in order to be able to maintain his precarious hovering position over the tall trees. While leving the area, “Pedro 2” was fired upon by hostile forces, but was able to escape undamaged. Enroute back to Nakhon Phanom, the flight mechanic *) did an outstanding job of administering first aid to the rescued pilot who had suffered several cuts and burns. The only paramedic on the scene was in the lead helicopter, “Pedro 1”. The pilots of the two HH-43F’s , Capt. Berdeaux and Capt. McMillan, flew the survivors to Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand.

*) Flight Mechanic, Andrew Paparella remembers:

“We would rotate there (NKP) from Udorn every 7-10 days. Capt. McMillan was our CO. The only thing we were told when we got back (to NKP), was that the F-4B pilot had a broken back and was being flown to a hospital. My guy was in pretty good shape with burned hands and cuts. We went to the chow hall, where I hand feed him and from there we went to the bar and he had me pull out his wallet and bought drinks for every one.” 


04.07      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  01 Nov 1965

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 23,78, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1088-1Nov65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA      

Rescue Mission number  38-1088-1Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43B       scrambled from NKP                         Flown by unknown crew

HH-43B        scrambled from NKP                        Flown by unknown crew

CH-3C           scrambled from NKP

Flown by RCC Capt. Warren R. Lilly, 1/Lt. Jerry A Singleton (co-pilot), TSgt. Spence C. Heywood (HM),   TSgt. William J. Warren (HM), SSgt. Arthur Cormier (PJ)

SAR Objective :  pilot  A-4E  151142   LCDR Billy V. Wheat  – VA-86   USS Independence (CVA-62)

Shot down over North Vietnam, between Vinh and Dong Ha - survivor located at 65 NM  NE of NKP

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

On 01 Nov 65, Lt. Cmdr. Billy V. Wheat ejected from his A-4E over North Vietnam. His wingman noted the successful bailout and alerted the HU-16B on precautionary orbit over the Gulf of Tonkin at 0626Z, which in turn alerted the rescue center at Udorn AB, Thailand. A HC-54D was scrambled from Udorn at 0631Z and two HH-43B’s were scrambled from Nakhon Phanom AB at 0634Z. The Huskies were in the area of the survivor at 0731Z, they reported negative electronic signals.

A CH-3C was alerted at 0855Z when the HH-43’s began showing low on fuel. It is believed that the inability of the HH-43’s to locate the downed pilot was because the pilot was injured. The CH-3C took off on this normally hazardous mission handicapped by the following:

the TACAN and ARA-25 navigation systems were inoperative, the rescue hoist would only operate from the pilot’s position, and due to a critical shortage at the base, there was insufficient personal survival equipment aboard for the crew.

Enroute to the area, the CH-3C was intercepted by A-1E aircraft which were to provide escort and suppressive fire power as needed. Upon entering the area, the A-1E escort aircraft went in low over the area and did not draw any ground fire so the CH-3C was taken in for a close look.

The CH-3C pilot decided to start a search along a line and a personnel locator “beeper” tone was heard by one of the A-1E pilots. At almost the same time, the CH-3C co-pilot caught a fleeting glimpse of a pen gun flare. As the approach to the spot where the flare was sighted was started, a garbled and excited voice came over the air on the emergency UHF frequency.

The area from which the flare had been fired was in a shallow valley on the side of a high mountain. Finally, after talking to the survivor, the CH-3C crew was able to pick out his location. The flight mechanic spotted the downed pilot in an area surrounded by very high trees, waving his “T” shirt. The downed pilot had stated that he was injured, so the decision was made to lower the paramedic to the ground, hoping that he could then help the injured pilot to a better location for the pick up.

The paramedic was lowered through the trees and when all the available hoist cable had been extended (200 feet), he was still 15 feet from the ground. He then dropped the rest of the way, crashing through the dense tangle of underbrush. He located the injured man and half carried, half dragged him through the forest to an area which he thought would be suitable for a pick up. Throughout all this, the helicopter pilot had been maintaining a steady hover with the nose of the aircraft brushing the top of one tree and rotor tip clearance of two feet from another tree towering up on the right side.

Suddenly the copilot noticed a high transmission oil temperature and low pressure. The pilot moved the helicopter and flew around letting the airflow around the transmission dissipate the exess heat. When the temperature and pressure were back within limits, the helicopter returned and was directed over the spot where the paramedic and survivor were, by the two flight mechanics. The hoist was lowered with two “horse collars” , both men were brought up at the same time.

The CH-3C then headed for Nakhon Phanom AB, one hour and eighteen minutes after reaching the objective area. A medical officer was in contact with the CH-3C on UHF radio.During the return flight, the paramedic, assisted by one of the flight mechanics, administered excellent first aid to the survivor. The HC-54D that was on the scene went to Nakhon Phanom to provide Med Evac assistance. 


04.08      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -   06-07 November 1965

Source 1:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 24-25 and page 80 , in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2: Book  Fey, Peter “Bloody Sixteen - The USS Oriskany and Air Wing 16 During the Vietnam War”, U of Nebraska Press (2018), pages 96-101  (details out of this book marked with * here below) 

Source 3: Supporting Documents - file K318-2-1965-Vol.2, IRIS00491704, pages 192-197, in USAF Collection, AFHRA     see **)

Rescue Mission number  38-1110-6Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

CH-3C  63-9685  “Jolly Green 85”    scrambled on 06 Nov. from Lima Site 36 for pilot “Sandy 12”  -  JG 85 was shot down                            

Flown by  RCC  Capt. Warren Lilly, 1Lt. Jerry Singleton (co-pilot), SSgt. Arthur Cormier (all three POW - returned on 12Feb73) , plus SSgt. Berkley Naugle (FE), he was rescued by USN SH-3A “Nimble 62” on 06 Nov.

CH-3C  63-9676  “Jolly Green 76”        scrambled on 07 Nov.   From Lima Site 36

Flown by  RCC Capt. Norman Kamhoot, Robert A. Weekley (co-pilot), William J. Warren (FE), William G. Daniels (PJ)

Two HH-43F  lauched on 07 Nov.  (possibly from Udorn - according to Book PJ in Vietnam, page 151-152)   


SAR Objective for “Jolly Green 85”: pilot  A-1E  52-132469  “Sandy 12”   Capt. R.E. Bolstad  -     602 ACS, 6251 TFW  at Udorn AB                                                               POW  (returned)

SAR Objective for “Jolly Green 76”: crew of USN SH-3A 148993  “Nimble 62”  LT JG Terry Campbell (pilot), and LT JG Mel Howell (co-pilot)   -   HS-2  USS Oriskany

                                              Note :  “Jolly Green 76”  was under repair at Lima Site 36 on 06 November

What happened between 05 and 08 November -in short: 

05 Nov

F-105D shot down over NVN - very bad weather and approaching darkness - rescue attempt next morning 06 Nov.

06 Nov

Two A-1E’s launched from Udorn to F-105D crash site -  “Sandy 12”  shot down

CH-3C “Jolly Green 85”  scrambled for “Sandy 12”          - CH-3C shot down

USNavy SH-3A “Nimble 57” diverted to crash site CH-3C , escorted by two A-1E’s

one, “Sandy 14” , was shot down  ;  “Nimble 57” back to carrier for fuel - 

“Nimble 62” returned to crash site, accompanied by three USN A-1H, flew to CH-3C crash site  and rescued SSgt Naugle, eventually the SH-3A returned to home, carrier USS Independence

07 Nov

USN SH-3A “Nimble 62” launched from USS Oriskany to CH-3C crash site, escorted by four USN A-1H RESCAP aircraft.

“Nimble 62”  was hit by AAA , made an emergency landing on hill top in NVN

one RESCAP A-1H (134563) was hit, made a wheels up landing at Da Nang AB

USN UH-2A "Angel 7" **) diverted to location of “Nimble 62”  and rescued two crewmembers

CH-3C “Jolly Green 76” scrambled for “85” crash site, diverted to location of “Nimble 62” and rescued two crewmembers

08 Nov

two A-1E’s launched from Udorn to crash site. Both hit - returned to Udorn

Rescue missions suspended


NOTE : Source 3 **) stated that from a debriefing with SSgt. Naugle and the crew of the SH-3A who rescued him, the call sign was “Nimble 62”  and not “Nimble 57” (as stated in Source 2).

Mission Narrative:

On 05 Nov 1965 an F-105D, call sign “Oak 1” (pilot  LtCol. George C. McCleary  - KIA), was missing over North Vietnam. His wingman had last seen him going into the clouds. The weather in the area was rapidly deteriorating and no signals were being received.

On 06 November, two A-1E‘s, “Sandy 11” and “12”, went into the area to search for “Oak 1”. During the course of the search, “Sandy 12” was hit by ground fire, and the pilot bailed out. His wingman observed him on the ground. A CH-3C was scrambled from Lima Site 36 in Laos, and two more A-1E’s were sent from Udorn, but “Sandy 11” was not able to relocate the downed pilot prior to his bingo fuel time.

The CH-3C, “Jolly Green 85”, was hit by ground fire in the search area. The four man crew bailed out, and four good chutes were observed by their A-1E escort. Voice and beeper contact was made with at least one crewmember, and a visual sighting was made (SSgt. Naugle). ( * the other 3 crewmembers landed in a village and were captured).

At this time, the on scene commander received a call stating that the Navy had a helicopter enroute to the search area  (*  SH-3A “Nimble 57” from HS-2 with pilot LTCDR Vernon Frank).

Two A-1E’s, “Sandy 13” (Capt. George W. Koronsbein **))  and “14”, were sent to the coast to escort the SH-3A “Nimble 57” in, and close to the location of the wreckage of the CH-3C,  “Sandy 14” was hit by ground fire. A transmission from him stating he had been hit followed, but there was no further contact. (Capt. G.G. McNight - POW, returned)

At this time it was already completely dark.

The remaining A-1E and  “Nimble 57” remained in the area until the helicopter had to depart due to fuel limitations (* back to home station carrier USS Independence).

**)  SH-3A “Nimble 62” (with the crew of “Nimble 57”, as stated in Source 2) returned to the search area, accompanied by Navy A-1H RESCAP aircraft “Locket One”. Two A-1H aircraft “Locket Three and Four” joined the flight. The A-1H’s picked up a beeper in the vicinity of the CH-3C bailout location. Soon after this, voice contact was made and the Navy SH-3A, “Nimble 57”, went in low to attempt visual contact.

It was dark, but fortunately the survivor had a cigarette lighter which was used to signal the  helicopter. His flashes were observed and Sgt. Naugle, a crewmember from the downed “Jolly Green 85”, was picked up and taken to the carrier. The only injuries Sgt. Naugle suffered were slight burns on his hand. 

The following morning (07 November)  SH-3A “Nimble 62” (Source 3 reported this call-sign as “Nimble 02” **)) from HS-2, piloted by LT JG Campbell, returned to the search area in an attempt to locate additional survivors. While enroute, a MIG alert was received, and “Nimble 62” descended to get between cloud layers at 2000 and 3000 feet. As it flew over a hole in the bottom cloud deck it was hit by automatic weapons fire. The fuel lines were  ruptured and a rapid loss of fuel was experienced forcing the pilot to make a controlled landing on a hill top in North Vietnam. One of the two A-1H aircraft that escorted “Nimble 62” was also hit, however, both A-1H’s made it safely to Da Nang; although the severly damaged A-1H had to make a gear up landing.

A short time later, another Navy helicopter, a Kaman UH-2A Seasprite, call-sign "Angel 7"  **), assigned to HC-2 DET.62 and TDY to the USS Richmond K.Turner as a guard “Angel” helicopter, arrived at the landing site of “Nimble 62” and was able to pick up 2 of the 4 crewmembers. (* low on fuel the UH-2 headed for a Lime Site in Laos and later, with aid of Air America, the survivors arrived at Udorn). 

CH-3C  “Jolly Green 76” was launched from Lima Site 36 for the location of the  downed “Jolly Green 85”. Enroute to the objective area, “Jolly Green 76” was advised that a Navy SH-3A rescue helicopter “Nimble 62” had been damaged by hostile fire and had been forced to land in hostile territory. “Jolly Green 76” was diverted from its original mission and proceeded to the landing scene of  “Nimble 62”, which was about 35 miles south of “Jolly Green 85” coordinates.

“Jolly Green 76”  made their first sighting of the distressed aircraft while at an altitude of 9300 feet MSL, and began an immediate descent at maximum rate simultaneously jettisoning all auxiliary fuel to decrease gross weight. A Navy A-1H aircraft recommended a final approach heading for the pick up, an flew this approach at tree top level attempting to draw ground fire. There was no ground fire observed, so “Jolly Green 76” initiated a slow final approach and evaluated the power required to hover. A hover out of ground effect would be required, and in order to use the least amount of power and avoid overheating the engines and transmission, the hover would have to be maintained in a small area which put the tip path of the rotor 10 to 12 feet from the surrounding trees. While the flight mechanic operated the hoist, the copilot monitored the controls and engine instruments. As the second survivor was being picked up, the fire warning light for number one engine came on. As soon as the survivor was aboard, an immediate take off at max power was made, and the fire warning light went out as the airflow through the engine was increased. The take off and climb were normal and level off was at 10,300 feet. “Jolly Green 76” took the survivors, the pilot and co-pilot of “Nimble 62”, to Lima Site 36. Later, they were flown to Udorn AB, Thailand. 

On the morning of November 08, a first light search was initiated in the CH-3C bailout area. Several passes were made and no ground fire was observed by the A-1E’s that were receiving a beeper. However, as more aircraft entered the area to attempt to pinpoint the beeper heavy ground fire erupted. Two A-1E’s were hit and had to withdraw; both landed safely at Udorn.

Due to the intensity of the ground fire, the further recovery of survivors was deemed to be not feasible without additional losses. The mission was suspended on 08 November 1965.   


04.09       Recovery Flight  in Thailand  - 12 November 1965

NO AFHRA  Rescue Mission document  found/available

Information for the F-105D pilot gained from website “395 F-105 Combat Losses”, unknown credit 

Rescue Mission number  5-38-??-12Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS


Flown by (possibly) Capt. Potter , and co-pilot ?? , and SSgt. Jerry Dixon (FE), and a unknown medic


SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  62-4218   Capt. William N. Miller   -  562 TFS    Takhli AB


Gary Pruitt (HH-43 Firefighter) remembers:

A F-105D had exploded after disconnecting from a KC-135A Tanker, not far from Udorn AB. The pilot was seen ejecting and had a good chute. 

A HH-43 was scrambled with pilot Capt. Potter, I think. SSgt. Jerry Dixon (FE)  and a medic were crewmembers. They located the F-105D pilot, SSgt. Dixon went down on the hoist. The pilot was deceased.  He and Dixon were hoisted back up and the the remains were brought back to Udorn.  


04.10      Rescue  mission  into  North Vietnam    -  18 Nov 1965

Source 1:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 26, 81 in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source 2: AFHRA file K318-222-3-Hist-3ARRG-Vol.1-Apr-Jun66-IRIS492414 ** ; Source 3: AFHRA file K318-2-Hist-3ARRG-Vol2 part Jul-Sep66 IRIS0491723 * 

Rescue Mission number  38-1141-18Nov65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-43  serial  unknown  “Pedro 1” 

Flown by RCC  Capt. John B. Reiderich*, 1Lt. Charles R. Sweet * (co-pilot), A2C Charles E. Veasey* (HM), A1C Harry W. Birtel* (PJ)

HH-43  serial unknown    “Pedro 2”

Flown by  RCC  1Lt. Frederick T. Dykes **, 1Lt. Kenneth G. Griffis ** (co-pilot), A2C Philip D. Carlson** (HM)

SAR Objective :  pilot  F-105D  61-0062  Captain Larry C. Mahaffey  – 469 TFS, 6234 TFW Korat AB

Shot down over North Vietnam, 35 NM SW of Vinh

*Received DFC for heroism while participating in aerial flight on 18 Nov 65  ;  **  Received Air Medal  for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight on 18 Nov 65  

Narrative of Rescue Mission: 

On 18 November 1965, Captain Larry Mahaffey’s F-105D was hit by ground fire over North Vietnam. He turned towards the mountains and ejected when he lost control of the aircraft. He landed in trees 100 feet high, and made no attempt to reach the ground. The HC-54D on prepositioned orbit headed toward the bail out scene and two HH-43’s,  “Pedro 1” and “Pedro 2”, were scrambled from Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. The downed pilot made contact with RESCAP aircraft utilizing his URC-10 radio. The downed pilot’s position had been plotted as being dangerously close to confirmed concentrations of hostile anti-aircraft emplacements, and in the same area that HH-43B “Duchy 41” had been shot down while attempting a rescue operation on 20 September 1965.

 Enroute to the area, “Pedro 1” and “2” encountered weather and rain of such intensity that portions of the rubber covering was peeled off the rotor blades of “Pedro 1”. Positive contact with the downed pilot had not been established when the Pedros arrived on the scene. A search was initiated by both helicopters and the general area was thoroughly explored for fifteen minutes. An emergency beeper tone was suddenly heard by “Pedro 1” and voice contact was established between the downed pilot and the helicopter. A flare from the distressed crewman revealed his exact position to “Pedro 2”, who directed “Pedro 1” to the spot. The helicopter was brought to a perfect hover over the pilot who was tangled in a dense mass of limbs and vines. With the aid of the forest penetrator, and after five minutes of maintaining a motionless hover, the pilot was brought safely into the helicopter, and the return trip was started. As “Pedro 1” moved away, there was an unidentified movement in some bushes nearby. It was thought that the movement might have been made by some natives, but there was no ground fire encountered and the departure was executed safely. Both helicopters returned safely to Nakhon Phanom Air Base. 


04.11      Late November 1965  photos 


                                      photo 1                                                                                                                                           photo 3                                                                                              photo 5

Collage 5aircraft Nov65 GaryPruitt

                                                                                             photo 2                                                                                                                               photo 4

Photos by Gary Pruitt - these are stills, copied from his 8mm film ; date Late Nov65.

Being a film, the sequence of these photos is from #1 to #5. Here the aircraft were parked on a taxiway in front of the Det.5 Alert Building. Shortly later, the aircraft moved to a new parking ramp accross the main parallel taxiway, and left of area in photo #1. This new parking ramp was made of PSP plates. See photos here below.

In the photos are 4 HH-43 aircraft and one CH-3C, being photographed late November, this must be aircraft 63-9676. Note the all black paint scheme. The building seen in photo #3 is the Base Fire Station.


04.12      December 1965 photos


Recovery of  HH-43F   62-4508  -   03 December 1965 

Source:  File  K318-2-Hist.ARS-Jan-Dec65-Vol.1-IRIS00491703, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

On 3 Dec 65, during a flight from NKP to Udorn AB, a minor aircraft accident occurred when HH-43F 62-4508, Detachment 5, 38th ARSq, flown by Captain Kenneth G. Griffis, sustained damage after autorotation into a rice paddy as a result of engine failure, 40 miles east of Udorn AB.

The aircraft was airlifted to Udorn as sling load under a HH-3C - see photos here below.

Early January 1966, 62-4508 was loaded on to a truck and transferred to Don Muang AB (Bangkok) for repair.

HH3C HH43F 03Dec65 collage

Det.5 HH-3C with Det.5 HH-43F 62-4508 as sling load, Udorn AB 03 December 1965. Photos by Gary Pruitt - these are stills, copied from his 8mm film.


More December photos:

Udorn Dec1965 collage

Left photo, HH-43B with small black Huskie-logo above the small “star and bar”, therefor aircraft 59-1590 (see also chapter 04.02)  --- in photo at right :  one HH-3C and 4 HH-43 Huskies on the new PSP ramp. December 1965 photos by Gary Pruitt - these are stills, copied from his 8mm film.


04.13      Special Airlift  near NKP  on  06 Dec 65 

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 86 in USAF Collection, AFHRA  

Mission number  unknown - 6Dec65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-3C     64-14231    “Jolly Green 31”

Flown by RCC  1/Lt. Thomas E. Kenny, Capt. Francis E. Hendrickson (co-pilot), SSgt. Harold R. Schrader (HM), A1C Leroy Kelsay (PJ)


Objective :  transport of Thai policemen

Narrative of Special Airlift:

At 1300 hours on the 6th of December 1965, the Air Police at Nakhon Phanom AB were notified by the Provincial Governor of the area, that he would like to have a USAF helicopter move some Thai police to an area souh west of Nakhon Phanom to reinforce some fighting against some Communists infiltrators. This message was passed on to the Base Commander who passed it on to the alert helicopter crews.

Permission was granted by “Compress” (Udorn RCC) to take one of the alert helicopters and to airlift the Thai policemen to the area requested by the Provincial Governor.

“Jolly Green 31” took off from the Air Base accompanied by two A-1E aircraft and proceeded to the town of Nakhon Phanom. “Jolly Green 31”  landed on a soccer field next to the Thai police station and loaded on eight policemen, the Governor, and Missionary Webber. They flew to a village 37 miles out on the 210° radial of channel 65 where they landed in a school yard. The helicopter off loaded the police and waited fifteen minutes till the Governor returned, and then took off for Nakhon Phanom where they let the Governor off and then returned to the base. The Governor and the Missionary expressed their appreciation for the aid received from the Jolly Green crew.


04.14      Rescue Mission  -  19 December 1965 

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 82 in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1233-19Dec65, IRIS No. 01009285, in USAF Collection, AFHRA 

Rescue Mission number   38-1233-19Dec65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-3C     64-14233    “Jolly Green 33”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Norman B. Kamhoot, Capt. Charles P. Rush (co-pilot), SSgt  Theodore M. Youngblood (HM), A1C  Harry W. Birtel (PJ)

HH-3C     64-14227    “Jolly Green 27”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Robert D. Furman, Capt. Dale V. Hardy (co-pilot), SSgt  Berkley E. Naugle (HM), A1C  Robert E. Crites (HM)


SAR objective :  crew  F-4C  63-7527   Capt. Robert S. Kan, Lt. J. Moran  -   433 TFS, 8 TFW

Crews ejected 40 miles WSW of Nakhon Phanom AB

Narrative of Rescue Mission:

During normal strip alert on 19 December 1965 at Nakhon Phanom AB, the crews of “Jolly Green 33” and “27” were notified of a  “Mayday”  by “Invert”  radar. An F-4C had encountered battle damage over North Vietnam and the crew was anticipating ejecting.

At 0927Z “Invert” radar advised the crews to scramble as the damaged aircraft was proceding toward their area.  Both helicopters took off and were given an initial intercept heading by “Invert”.

On a heading of approximately 250° at about 0948Z a column of black smoke was sighted and the helicopters proceeded towards the smoke. “Invert” advised that two chutes had been spotted and the positions were 269° Radial at 29 miles and the other one on the 270° Radial at 32 miles of channel 65 TACAN.

“Jolly Green 27” diverted to the 270° radial position and “Jolly Green 33” set up a search for the pilot located on the 269° Radial. The helicopters were receiving one good beeper signal and one intermittenly plus receiving one of the downed pilots voice radio on guard channel. One of the pilots used his signal mirror and was immediately picked up by “Jolly Green 27”. The other pilot ignited a smoke bomb and attracted the attention of “Jolly Green 33”. The trees were dense where the pilot was and the helicopter directed him to move to a clearing about 200 feet away. A low hover was established and the pilot was picked up. Neither of the downed pilots were injured and they were taken back to Nakhon Phanom AB and later to Udorn AB, Thailand. Also involved in this mission were a HC-54D and two A-1E’s. 


04.15      Rescue Mission into North Vietnam  -  21 Dec 1965 

Source: Rescue Mission Report  38-1239-21Dec65, IRIS No. 01009286, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 83 in USAF Collection, AFHRA  

Rescue Mission number   38-1239-21Dec65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-3C     64-14227    “Jolly Green 27”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Capt. James L. Butera, Capt. William E. Cowell * (co-pilot), TSgt  Spence C. Heywood * (HM), A1C  Harry W. Birtel * (PJ)

HH-3C     64-14233    “Jolly Green 33”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Norman B. Kamhoot, Capt. Charles P. Rush (co-pilot), SSgt  Theodore M. Youngblood (HM), A1C  Robert E. Crites (HM)


SAR objective :  crew  F-105D  59-1823  “Cedar 2”  Capt. James V. Sullivan  -  421 TFS   Korat AB

*Capt. Cowell, TSgt. Heywood and A1C Birtel were awarded with the Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight on 21 Dec 1965 

The wingman of “Cedar 2” (the SAR objective) alerted the HC-54D on precautionary orbit. Two HH-3C helicopters and two A-1E aircraft were launched at 0730 local time. The HC-54D arrived on the scene at 0810 local and at 0815 the HH-3C’s and escorting A-1E’s arrived there.

Summary of Events, written by HH-3C RCC Captain Butera:

While on alert at Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand we received notice from “Invert” (GCI at NKP) at 0725 local that an aircraft was down at 18N 10550E. Received instructions from “Compress” (Udorn RCC) to scramble. “Jolly Green 27”  and “33”  were airborn at 0730 local. We proceeded on the 030° Radial for 40 miles to avoid flak area ENE of Nakhon Phanom. We then proceeded 090° for another 40 miles to the target area.

Upon reaching the objective area, the weather was found to be extremely poor for a crew recovery operation. There was a complete overcast from the border mountains east across the pan handle of DRV. We arrived in the target area at 0815 local. “Sandy” aircraft found a hole in the overcast and dropped down to begin an electronic search. A-1E “Sandy 13” spotted the downed airman’s chute and notified us at about 0835 local. Both Jolly Greens were still above the overcast and no holes were visible.

After taking radio bearings off the “Sandy” aircraft we positioned ourselves NE of his position, distance unknown. “Sandy” described the area below the overcast and directed us over a valley where the ceiling was 700 to 1000 feet. We took up a heading down the valley and descended thru the overcast entering the clouds at 5000 and breaking out at 2600 indicated, which was approximately 900 feet AGL. We made immediate visual contact with “Sandy” who led us around known flak positions along a mountain ridge to the area.

As we arrived I observed a pen flare. We flew a low altitude, high speed pass over the spot and saw a chute but were unable to see the pilot due to tall trees and the indigenous type forest in the area. Just as I passed over the chute I received a faint call from the downed pilot which was blocked out almost immediately. I made a 180° turn coming to a hover above the chute. At this time the flight mechanic spotted the pilot and talked me into position. The pick up was made at 0845 local, 200 feet down the side of a mountain in 50 to 60 foot trees, and heavy undergrowth.

The terrain dictated that I take off straight ahead which took me near a road and a village. We received two bursts of fire just below the chopper which made our tail lurch up, knocking the crew in the cabin to the floor. The A-1E aircraft immediately returned the fire as we turned left away from the village. No further fire was observed. The “Sandy” aircraft looked us over and reported no visual damage. We then took up a heading towards a valley and climbed up thru the overcast. 

Communications between the SAR aircraft was exellent. The downed pilot’s use of the pen flare aided us of his location and reduced our time in the area to a minimum. The “Sandy” aircraft’s rapid reaction to the ground fire reduced the ground fire to a minimum. We returned the pilot to Udorn at 1025 local. Actual pick up was at 1801N - 10543E. 

December 21st, 1965 was the day that the “Bob Hope Show” was on base - Anthony Desmond remembers:

“The F-105 pilot's name was Capt. Jim Sullivan. When he got on stage, Bob Hope shook his hand and said:  "I bet you are happy to be here". 

BobHopeShow at0324 GaryPruitt

Photos by Gary Pruitt - these are stills, copied from his 8mm film. The moments that the F-105 pilot was on stage (and most probably also the HH-3C crewmembers), were unfortunately not recorded.

BobHopeShow at0331 GaryPruitt


04.16      Rescue Mission near Udorn AB  -  29 Dec 1965

Source: Rescue Mission Report  5-38-142-29Dec65, IRIS No. unknown, in USAF Collection, AFHRA

Source:  Combat Mission Narratives - file K318-2-1965-Vol.11, IRIS 00491713, page 84 in USAF Collection, AFHRA  

Rescue Mission number   5-38-142-29Dec65      DET.5, 38 ARS

HH-3C     64-14232    “Jolly Green 32”

Flown by RCC  Capt. James L. Butera, Capt. William E. Cowell (co-pilot), A1C Frank I. Clubb (HM)

HH-43     unknown serial    “Pedro ... ”

Flown by RCC  Capt. Charles E. McMillan, (no co-pilot),  SSgt. James C. Baldwin (FF), A2C Anthony F. Desmond (FF), A1C Keith R. Nolder (Medic)


SAR objective :  pilot  ThaiAF  T-33A   -   Capt. ........ (serial T-33A either F11-1/98 or F11-2/98)

crashed ca. 11 miles from base, in a rice paddy

Narrative of Rescue Mission, written by HH-3C  RCC Captain Butera:

At 1010 local on the 29th of December 1965, “Jolly Green 32” was on a local training flight, the Udorn tower requested that we break out of traffic and orbit south of the field because there was an aircraft emergency in progress.

A “Pedro” HH-43 was in the immediate area south of the field with fire suppression kit awaiting the distressed aircraft. At 1020 local the tower notified both the “Pedro” and “Jolly Green 32” that they had lost the T-33A on radar about ten miles out on the 280° radial from Channel 31. The “Pedro” advised the tower that he had to return to the field and drop the fire suppression kit. The tower requested “Jolly Green 32” to proceed to the area and search. At about five miles out of Channel 31 the tower was asked for any other information on the T-33A that would help in the search. The tower knew nothing more than they had mentioned before.

Almost immediately after talking to the tower, the explosion from the aircraft crash was sited about four miles in front of “Jolly Green”. A large column of black smoke started to rise above the crashed aircraft. About a mile past the crash site a parachute was seen. Within a minute after the pilot landed, the “Jolly Green” was on the ground. Three crew members went to the pilots aid. The pilot indicated problems with his back and left leg, so he was not moved until a medic arrived on the “Pedro”. At that time he was examined by the medic and placed on a litter for transportation in the “Jolly Green” back to Udorn. After airborne the tower was notified and an ambulance and doctor requested to meet the aircraft. He was off loaded at Udorn at 1057 local. 

Comment by Anthony Desmond (email July 2021), I remember the T-33A crash:

We use to relieve crew members for meal breaks. The day of the crash I relieved Gary (Pruitt) for his lunch break. While he was having lunch the T-33A's pilot had the emergency and myself and the rest of the HH-43 alert crew scrambled to cover the emergency landing. However, the T-33A crashed as is stated in the report. We went back to base and left the FSK. We then proceeded to the crash site where the HH-3C had already landed. The medic Nolder checked the pilot and decided to have the Jolly Green fly him back to base. His reason being that with the pilot having an injured back it was better to use the Jolly as it would be a smoother flight.

While our HH-43 and the HH-3C was at the crash site, Gary came back to the alert pad from lunch. Then somebody decided to fly the other Pedro with the FSK to where the T-33A had crashed and was burning. When we were flying back to base, I remember looking down and seeing a firefighter spraying foam from the FSK on the burning T-33A.


05.        History   Detachment 5, 38 ARRS   -   during  1966

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last update: 02/05/2023